Left Field – Jeromy Burnitz
Burnitz was a first-round draft pick of the Mets and a bit overmatched when he debuted during the 1993 and ’94 seasons. He hit .240 with 16 home runs over parts of two seasons while striking out an alarming rate. He was quickly shipped off to the Indians and after a very brief stop in Cleveland, he made his way to the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Burnitz broke out with Brewers as if he was recreating Harvey’s Wallbangers from the early 80’s. In five-plus seasons with the Brewers, Burnitz averaged 33 home runs and 102 RBI with 85 walks a season, greatly improving his contact and on base percentage.
The Mets probably figured they would give him another try and made a move to get him back but that didn’t last long. It was like the Brewers got the gold and the Mets got the dregs. He performance in a Mets uniform couldn’t seem to match up with what he could do in another uniform.
Centerfield – Amos Otis
The Mets seemed to have an endless search for a third baseman. Ed Charles, the popular player known as “The Glider” was already on a decline and his resurgence helped the Mets to a World Championship. But they needed a replacement. They had a talented trio of outfielders in the minor leagues – Amos Otis, Ken Singleton, Leroy Stanton – all considered five-tool athletes. They attempted to get Otis to move to third base. That didn’t work very well so they shipped him off to Kansas City for Joe Foy.
According to a story conveyed by Jerry Koosman, Foy fell under the influence of his old friends in the Bronx. During one particular game, a batter hit a hard ground ball by Foy. He never even saw it, but even after it went by him, he kept punching his glove and yelling, “Hit it to me, hit it to me.” During another game, Foy went running for a foul ball outside of the third baseline yelling, “I GOT IT…I GOT IT!” He got it. He got hit on the top of the head with it and it bounced into the stands. He was soon bounced out of town.
In the meantime, Otis became a star centerfielder with the Royals during the team’s heyday in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Otis played in a total of 67 games with the Mets over parts of two seasons, including the 1969 season, hitting an unspectacular .178 with no home runs. For the next 14 seasons with the Royals, Otis hit .280 with 193 home runs and 340 stolen bases. He was a five-time All Star and won three Gold Gloves. Otis had the perfect combination of power and speed, especially for the Royals. He had enough pop in his bat but his speed worked well with the Royals’ team philosophy of speed and defense. In fact, On September 7, 1971, he became the first player since 1927 to steal five bases in one game and he led the American League with 52 stolen bases that year.
Right Field – Ken Singleton
The Mets got All Star Rusty Staub but had to include Ken Singleton in the trade with the Montreal Expos. Staub had a few productive seasons before being shipped off to Detroit, while Singleton became one of the most prolific hitters in the game, first for the Expos, and then the Baltimore Orioles. It would be a long time before the Mets would have another outfielder that had the skills and production of Singleton from both sides of the plate.
Singleton hit .252 with 18 home runs over parts of two seasons with the Mets. Once he got to Montreal, he emerged as a force, actually having more productive seasons with the Expos than Staub had with the Mets during that period and, in 1973, he led the National League with an on base percentage of .425. He would sport a career OBP of .388 and walked more than he struck out. After leaving the Mets, he would hit for an average of .285 with 227 home runs and an OBP of .391.
Singleton was a part of the Orioles World Series teams of 1979 and 1983, a time period when the Mets were floundering in the standings and continued a search for a big bat in right field.