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New York Mets: Five best left fielders all-time in franchise history

NEW YORK - AUGUST 22: Cleon Jones speaks at a press conference commemorating the New York Mets 40th anniversary of the 1969 World Championship team on August 22, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 22: Cleon Jones speaks at a press conference commemorating the New York Mets 40th anniversary of the 1969 World Championship team on August 22, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA – CIRCA 1987: Kevin McReynolds of the New York Mets bats during a Major League Baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in 1987 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kevin McReynolds

2) Kevin McReynolds

After winning it all in 1986, it might have seemed logical for the Mets to keep their championship roster together, but instead they made several substantial moves that impacted their team for the remainder of the 1980s. One of those moves was trading Kevin Mitchell, who made a name for himself in New York by scoring the game-tying run in the 10th inning of Game 6. On December 11, 1986, the Mets sent Mitchell and Kevin Armstrong, Kevin Brown, Shawn Abner, and Stan Jefferson to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Adam Ging, Gene Walter, and outfielder Kevin McReynolds.

McReynolds had enjoyed a couple of productive years in San Diego, even placing top-20 in the 1984 NL MVP voting, but his most consistent offensive production came once he arrived in Queens. From 1987 through 1990, McReynolds hit over 20 home runs, knocked in over 80 RBI, and hit at least .269 every year. He finished third in NL MVP voting in 1988, losing to Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Teammate Darryl Strawberry outpaced him by a few votes, finishing second in that year’s award balloting.

McReynolds also had an interesting distinction in 1988 by stealing 21 bases without being caught once, which was an MLB record until Chase Utley (public enemy #1 for Mets fans) broke it in 2009 by going 23 for 23 on the base paths.

His relatively reserved personality starkly contrasted with that of teammates such as Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Keith Hernandez, but McReynolds quietly was one of the best offensive players on the Mets for several years. He didn’t have a lot of flash, but his on-field play spoke for itself.

In addition to his reliable offensive statistics, McReynolds made plenty of defensive highlights while with the Amazins. He led the National League in outfield assists for three consecutive years from 1988 to 1990, led the NL in double plays turned from the outfield in 1988 and 1989, and was known for outfield range and effortlessly tracking down any ball that was hit to him.

“Turned out there’s a pretty good group of guys in New York,” said McReynolds in a 2020 interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “They’d just come off of winning the World Series. It was a lot of fun playing there. It could be tough at times with all the media coverage. . .  For the most part, it was a team with a lot of talent for several years there. We just never were able to completely get to the big show again, but it was a lot of fun. I’m glad I was there.”

Though McReynolds has never established his place in Mets lore quite like some of his teammates that were on the 1986 squad, he deserves to be recognized as one of the very best players to man left field that the Mets have ever had.

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