Hundreds of players have suited up in the blue and orange to represent the New York Mets since 1962. Of those hundreds, some players get their numbers retired and are spoken about in glowing manner such as Mike Piazza and Tom Seaver. Some players have been chased out of Shea Stadium or Citi Field for poor performance such as Roberto Alomar or Jason Bay. Most we just say "oh yeah, I forgot he was a Met" like Jose Bautista or John Buck.
Through those hundreds of players, some have become polarizing for their lack of production in correlation to our expectations. In recent memory, Marcus Stroman was mediocre in 2019 but became polarizing for his social media presence. Bobby Bonilla was polarizing for fighting with the media and then playing cards during a 1999 postseason game. We set the bar high for these players, but there were reasons we never embraced Bonilla or Stroman for their off-the-field antics. Which players did we just not appreciate because we set the bar too high?
1. Dave Kingman
From 1971-86, Dave Kingman was known as the ultimate all or nothing player; he hit a bunch of home runs, but never hit for a high batting average. The outfielder hit for a .236 career batting average with 442 home runs, 154 of them came in 6 seasons with the Mets. In an era where players struck out at a much lower rate than in 2023, Kingman led the national league 3 times in doing so.
On the flip side, Kingman led the NL twice in home runs during an era where hitting 40 or more was unheard of. He was an all-star with the Mets in 1976, barreling 37 home runs. Kingman was a bright spot for the late 1970's Mets where wins were hard to come by. With all of his successes, why is Kingman laughed at for his Mets tenure?
The answer is easy- he was known as the 'strikeout king'. For all of the home runs Kingman hit, including the ball that hit the roof of Olympic Stadium, his downsides offensively never made up for his incredible power. Mets fans had an expectation of 40 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI. Fans were disappointed to see a player strikeout a lot and play decent defense in the outfield.