Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra was an underrated playoff performer
Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra isn’t well-known as a clutch playoff performer. His numbers prove it’s exactly what he was.
In his final full season with the New York Mets, Lenny Dykstra made the trip with the ball club to the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. An unfortunate ending to the season because the Mets dropped Game 7, it’s difficult to blame Dykstra for the poor result. By simply looking at his numbers in the postseason, we get a good picture of how talented he was whenever the calendar flipped to October.
In what was his second trip to the postseason, Dykstra was looking to add a second ring to his fingers. He was coming off a .296/.345/.519 with a pair of home runs performance in the 1986 World Series. Prior to that showing, he slashed .304/.360/.565 in the NLCS victory over the Houston Astros.
Dykstra may have been at his best in the 1988 NLCS. He led the team in multiple offensive categories. None was more impressive than his .429/.600/.857 slash line.
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Dykstra scored six runs, knocked three doubles, and smacked a home run. He helped stir the drink in the Mets’ effort to take down the eventual World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, one man couldn’t do it all.
In many of those 1988 games, he came in late as a pinch-hitter. Center field duties were shared with Mookie Wilson so he had to settle for fewer at-bats than he may have deserved. Whenever he did get those chances, however, Dykstra seemed to shine.
Maybe the biggest postseason moment of all for Dykstra came in his very first series. In Game 3 against the Astros, he sent the New York fans home happy with a walk-off home run. The two-run shot off of Dave Smith helped give the team the series lead and push them one step closer to a trip to the World Series.
They would, with Dykstra’s help, get there three games later. Dykstra had the best batting average on the team in the 1986 and 1988 NLCS.
Even after leaving the Mets, Dykstra continued to play at his best in October. He would make one more trip to the playoffs as a member of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .280/.400/.560 in the NLCS versus the Atlanta Braves. When the club went to the World Series, he had an unbelievable performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In those six games he played, Dykstra slashed .348/.500/.913. He nailed four home runs, drove in eight, and stole four bases.
One thing missing from Dykstra’s postseason resume is an MVP. Despite his overall numbers which include a .321/.433/.661 batting line, 10 home runs, and 74 total bases in 136 plate appearances, he never did manage to capture the votes needed. Instead, in the series his team won, he had to move over in favor of Ray Knight’s clutch bat, Curt Schilling’s legendary postseason pitching, and Mike Scott—whose team lost the 1986 NLCS.
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We don’t usually think of Dykstra as one of the great postseason performers. However, it’s definitely something he should bold on his resume.