3 Mets fan favorites who were ruined after a position change

Lee Mazzilli
Lee Mazzilli / Rich Pilling/GettyImages
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The New York Mets have had some star players in their history, some whose star dimmed rather suddenly. Although it seems like they may have just fallen off the cliff, it might have been they were actually pushed.

The Mets had three players over the years…each pretty successful…each a fan favorite (they were all definitely favorites of mine)…each an All Star. And, ironically, each was a switch hitter. And each of them, even more ironically, had a fall from grace once the Mets asked them to change positions.

1) Lee Mazzilli

Lee Mazzilli played the premier position, centerfield, in the city that boasted the best centerfielders to ever play the game. Mazzilli not only had matinee idol looks, but he had the tools make it actually matter. He could hit, he could run, and he played centerfield using the Willie Mays patented basket catch.

Maz was the main offense…really the only offense…in the Mets lineup from 1978 through 1980. During that three-year period, he compiled stats of .273 BA, .353 OBP, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 20 SB in 1978; .303 BA, .395 OBP, 15 HR, 79 RBI, 34 SB in 1979; and .280 BA, .370 OBP, 16 HR, 76 RBI, 41 SB in 1980.

But then, for some reason, Joe Torre decided that he was going to convert Mazzilli into a first baseman. Torre had been a really good hitting catcher but eventually moved from behind the plate to third base and eventually to first base. While that move may have prolonged Torre’s career, that decision ruined Mazzilli’s career.

He never looked comfortable at first base, and he then became uncomfortable at the plate…totally losing his identity and looking lost. He was eventually traded away for Ron Darling and Walt Terrell in 1982, but would return in 1986 to play a role in the Mets second World Championship.