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New York Mets: Six wacky batting stances the fans will never forget

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1973: Felix Millan #16 of the New York Mets bats against the Cincinnati Reds during an Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Millan played for the Mets from 1973-77. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1973: Felix Millan #16 of the New York Mets bats against the Cincinnati Reds during an Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Millan played for the Mets from 1973-77. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK – CIRCA 1973: Felix Millan #17 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during an Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Millan played for the Mets from 1973-77. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Unconventional, unique, and sometimes plain weird, these New York Mets are remembered for their one-of-a-kind batting stances.

The New York Mets have been blessed with many hitters who were memorable largely for their batting stance. Some MLB hitters adopt an extremely crouched approach to hitting, while others hold the bat so high above their heads that they might as well buy an extra ticket for it to sit in the upper decks.

I often wonder how players such as Craig Counsell or any other baseball players with memorable batting stances develop such a stance. It must help them hit in some way, or else they wouldn’t do it. Baseball players are notorious creatures of habit, though, so whatever batting habits they develop early on in their careers have a good chance of sticking around, no matter how goofy they look.

Among the vast array of Mets hitters through the years, here are a few who had particularly notable batting stances, in no particular ranking order.

Felix Millan

Though the Mets made it to the World Series in 1973, their lineup throughout the mid ’70s was never the most powerful force in the National League. Through those lean years, second baseman Felix Millan was a consistent threat at the plate and imprinted himself on many Mets fans with his unforgettable stance. He played for the Mets from 1973 through 1977, having spent the first seven years of his career with the Atlanta Braves.

Millan, nicknamed “The Cat,” hit for a .278 average across his five years in Queens, averaging nearly 150 hits and over 20 doubles per season. His claim to fame, batting stance-wise, was that he choked up on the bat to an almost cartoonish degree. Millan could often be found choking up close to a foot from the bat knob, giving the appearance of a modified bunt approach while clearly aiming for a hit.

It may have looked unusual at the plate, but Millan’s approach helped him put the ball in play at a historic rate. In 12 full major league seasons, the most he ever struck out in a season was 35 times, which came in 1969 when he played a full 162 games with the Braves. In seven of his 12 seasons, including all five of his years with the Mets, he walked more times than he struck out. Millan’s ability to make contact made him the toughest hitter in the National League to strike out in four separate years, including 1973-1975 in Flushing.

Millan put together a productive big league career on both sides of the ball. His memorable stance led to over 1600 career hits, three All-Star appearances, and a top-twenty finish in the 1973 NL MVP voting. He was also a very dependable fielder, earning two Gold Glove awards at second base in 1969 and 1972.

Millan could have enjoyed an even longer playing career if not for a nasty collision-turned-fight with Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ed Ott. On August 12, 1977, Ott slid hard into Millan at second base while attempting to break up a double play, knocking him over. Millan felt that Ott had slid a bit too hard and punched him in the face. Ott, in retaliation, picked up Millan and slammed him to the ground, breaking Millan’s collarbone and ultimately ending his major league career.

Despite this unceremonious end, Millan is fondly remembered by Mets fans for always putting the bat on the ball, all thanks to his extremely choked-up batting stance.

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