Felix Millan is mostly unrecognizable to young New York Mets fans despite once holding franchise records for the club.
The New York Mets have been lucky to employ a number of talented second basemen. Often overlooked in the club’s history at the position is the man who slotted in at the position literally every day in 1975, Felix Millan.
Timing is important. For Millan, his stay with the Mets didn’t hit the mark well enough to be remembered by some of the younger fans. He’s a player the kids should know a whole lot more about.
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The trade couldn’t have worked out better for the Mets in the first year of the deal. Stone had an unexpectedly awesome year, going 12-3 with a 2.80 ERA. Millan, the more veteran of the two, finished 16th in the MVP vote. His .290/.332/.353 slash line and 185 hits had a lot to do with it.
Oh, and one more thing. Millan struck out only 22 times all year long while managing to draw 35 walks.
This ability to put his bat on the ball made Millan far more valuable than an average light-hitting middle infielder. In his five seasons with the Mets, the man struck out only 92 times. Over his entire career, Millan saw strike three called against him 242 times in 6,325 trips to the plate.
When Millan did this, strikeouts weren’t nearly as common as they are today. However, this was already the era of Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, and other notable hard-swingers who didn’t care if they reached the century mark. This wasn’t Millan’s style. He was a throwback player to a time even before his career.
Millan’s time in New York included a .278/.326/.337 batting line which tells a lot about the player he was. Millan didn’t hit home runs. He had only 22 in his career including 8 with the Mets.
Also a superb defender, Millan took home a pair of Gold Gloves while with the Braves. He didn’t have the same luck in New York but still gave them some steadiness.
The 1975 season isn’t memorable for much in this team’s history. Between the 1973 World Series loss and Midnight Massacre campaign of 1977, the history books almost feel sealed. Millan, however, gave the club a franchise-setting campaign.
Playing in all 162 games for the 1975 squad, Millan mustered up 191 hits. It beat his previous franchise record of 185 set in 1973.
It would take 21 years for anyone to match and overtake Millan in the hits department. Lance Johnson and his 226 hits smashed Millan’s record. A handful of Mets have either tied or passed Millan since, but it remains the sixth-most in any season by a player in blue and orange.
Many of those early team records aren’t held in the same esteem as those set or beaten in more recent history. Only recently has Johnson became the single-season Mets hits leader for a longer period than Millan was. Yet for some reason, he has been forgotten by or never mentioned to younger fans who never got to see him play.
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Millan wasn’t the greatest second baseman in team history nor was he worthy of our top 30 Mets players of all-time. Millan was still one of the more uniquely talented players to ever call Shea Stadium home.