The Mets Top 5 leadoff hitters of all time # 4: Lenny Dykstra
Lenny Dykstra spent the first five years of his career with the Mets before being traded to the Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel in what is recognized as one of the worst trades in Mets history. Whenever you mention the name Lenny “Nails” Dykstra, most Mets fans immediately think of Game 3 in the 1986 World Series. With the Mets having lost the first two games at home, they were in desperate need of something to change the direction of the series. Dykstra hammered the third pitch over the right-field wall at Fenway Park in Boston and with one swing of the bat, he effectively turned the momentum of the series. He could have that kind of effect on a game.
Lenny Dykstra was called up from the minors in 1985 when Mookie Wilson was placed on the disabled list. The brash 22 year old’s play and energy was a big boost to a Mets team that narrowly missed out on the NL East crown. The following season, Dykstra was intended to be platooned in center field with Mookie Wilson but took over as starter and leadoff hitter when Wilson suffered a severe eye injury during spring training. Later that season, the Mets moved Wilson to left field to replace the recently released George Foster. Fans named Dykstra "Nails" for his hard-nosed personality, fearless play, and constantly dirty uniform.
Lenny Dykstra’s batting average slowly declined over the later part of the 1980’s, reaching a low of .222 in 1989. He lost his starting position and became a platoon player. Dykstra was told to hit the ball on the ground more or slap it the other way and take advantage of his speed and get on base more. Lenny seemed to be more interested in hitting the long ball. He would sometimes show up for spring training with his weight around 185 lbs. of muscle on his former 160 lb. frame before losing it during the season. Lenny Dykstra’s personality didn’t always sit well with Mets GM Frank Cashen. There are some who say this was part of the reason for the trade. However, there are also some who say that this is exactly the reason why the Phillies wanted him. After a slow start in Philadelphia, it finally dawned on Lenny (never a deep thinker) that if he were to hit the ball on the ground more or slap it the other way, he could take advantage of his speed and get on base more! His success in Philadelphia resulted in three All-Star game appearances, the 1993 National League Championship and being the runner up to Barry Bonds in the 1993 MVP voting.
In Dykstra’s four years with the Mets, he led the team to two playoff appearances and one World Championship. He was a classic lead off hitter and a perfect addition to the rowdy 1986 Mets. During his MLB career, Dykstra started 1,095 games in the leadoff spot and only15 games everywhere else. Lenny Dykstra was a major league leadoff hitter, plain and simple.