These three former New York Mets didn’t get nearly enough playing time during their stint with the Amazins.
Several times in New York Mets history, there have been talented players right under our noses that either the fans, the ownership, or both did not appreciate enough.
The toughest job in Major League Baseball is that of the pinch hitter or utility player. Those who succeed in that role sometimes are best suited for a bench spot, but other times they are just waiting to get regular playing time in order to fully thrive.
These three Mets players were mostly part-time players when they were in Flushing, but their skills and talent warranted a bigger role on an MLB roster. This additional playing time came outside of Queens, much to the chagrin of Mets fans who continue to lament “the ones that got away.”
For Mets fans who dread facing the Los Angeles Dodgers these days, Justin Turner is likely a large reason why. He played in Queens from 2010-2013 and was usually a part-time player, appearing in over 100 games in a season just once during his Mets tenure.
Turner mostly played third base for the Mets, often filling in for an injured David Wright. He never hit for much power, socking only eight home runs in four years with the Mets. However, he consistently fielded well and hit for a decent-to-high average, batting .280 in his final season in Queens.
After the 2013 season, the Mets chose not to re-sign Turner, evidently feeling like they had too much depth in an infield that mostly consisted of Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda. Turner then signed with the Dodgers, where he’s been a mainstay at third base ever since.
Since leaving the Mets, all Turner has done is have three top-15 MVP finishes, win the 2017 NLCS MVP award, make it to an All-Star game, and continually produce both offensively and defensively. The brighter his talent shines, the longer his bright red beard has gotten. Turner is the perfect example of a recent player who showed incredible promise as a Met but never got the chance to show his full potential until he left Queens.
When he was on the Mets, Turner was one of my favorite players, and I always felt like he was underused. His very last month with the Mets was perhaps his best when he batted .357 and hit his only two home runs of the year. Back in 2013, Wright was still a fixture at third base most days, but Turner even showed promise in the outfield when he wasn’t filling in for Wright and could certainly have played a serviceable left field if the Mets wanted to keep him around.
Clearly, Turner is gifted at baseball and will produce wherever and whenever he plays. He showed this consistently when he played in Flushing. The Mets, unfortunately, did not appreciate or play him enough to see his long-term value.