The 1986 New York Mets won the World Series with great pitching, a stellar starting lineup, and a bench that often goes forgotten.
We all know the value of a bench in Major League Baseball, but how often do we look back at a successful team and analyze whether or not the reserves actually helped the team win? I’m revisiting the 1986 New York Mets to find out.
The 1986 squad remains the most recent championship squad to adorn the orange and blue NY emblem. More than 30 years in the past, the game is played much differently but in many ways still the same.
It takes a full roster to succeed in baseball. Upon initial review, I can see how much the 1986 Mets needed their bench players to make them such an elite squad.
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Regularly throughout the year, the Mets bench included familiar names such as Kevin Mitchell, Tim Teufel, and Howard Johnson. Danny Heep and Ed Hearn were also on the bench to help shape a fine core behind the starters.
Mitchell played a lot more than the rest, accumulating 364 plate appearances on the year. He gave them a .277/.344/.466 performance complete with 12 home runs and 22 doubles. Teufel and Johnson hit .247 and .245 respectively with Johnson providing the pop while Teufel gave New York some infield defense.
Then there were the other two: Heep and Hearn. Two of the most important yet overlooked members of this championship squad, they were imperative to the team winning it all.
Heep quietly hit .282/.379/.421 with 5 home runs and 33 RBI in 227 trips to the plate. He struck out only one more time than he walked, making him a dangerous bat late in games for Davey Johnson.
Hearn had his own important role as the backup to the legendary Gary Carter. Far too often, when the backup catcher enters, something is lost at the plate. While still true, Hearn wasn’t wasting at-bats for the Mets. He hit .265/.322/.390 with 4 home runs in his 151 opportunities.
The 1986 Amazins are well-known for a couple of things. Their awesome starting lineup, their talented young pitching, and their deep bullpen are just three.
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Something a little less known is how capable the reserve position players were. For a team bound for greatness, I’m not sure it would have been possible without those scrappy part-timers.