Kevin McReynolds went 21/21 stealing bases for the Mets in his 1988 MVP chase

Kevin McReynolds taking a lead at Shea Stadium
Kevin McReynolds taking a lead at Shea Stadium / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

1988 was the last great year for Davey Johnson’s New York Mets. The team won 100 games but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Still, the 1988 Mets were probably more talented than the 1986 World Series-winning Mets. One of the reasons was left fielder Kevin McReynolds. On a team of explosive personalities, McReynolds was a quiet and consistent performer.

The Mets traded for McReynolds in December of 1986, sending Shane Mack, Stan Jefferson and top prospect Shawn Abner to the San Diego Padres for him. The trade paid immediate dividends for the Mets, as McReynolds hit 27 homers and drove in 95 runs playing left field in 1987. McReynolds had another outstanding year in 1988, hitting 27 homers and driving in 99 runs.

Kevin McReynolds placed third in MVP voting for the NY Mets in 1988

Those were solid, MVP caliber numbers for the era. But McReynolds greatest feat that season came on the base paths. In 1988 he set the National League record for most stolen bases in a season without getting caught, steeling 21 bases in total. McReynolds got his first steal on 15 April against the rival St. Louis Cardinals. His last steal came on 21 September vs the Phillies. In between McReynolds stole two bases on June 2nd against the Cubs. McReynolds' most frequent victim was the up and coming Pittsburgh Pirates, against whom stole six bases, four of them against catcher Mike Lavaliere. All of McReynolds' steals were of second base.

The Baseball Writers of America thought McReynolds had a great 1988 too. He placed third in MVP voting, with 162 points. Teammate Daryl Strawberry placed second, with 262 points. McReynolds and Strawberry split the vote, combined they beat 1988 NL MVP Kirk Gibson, who placed first with 272 total points. Strawberry was thrown out 14 times in that season, while Gibson was caught stealing four times.

McReynolds put up similar though unspectacular numbers in 1989 (272, 22, 85) and 1990 (269, 24, 82). His production fell of significantly in 1991, (259, 16, 74). Like the Mets, McReynolds was fading. During the offseason the Mets traded him to the Kansas City Royals along with the infamous second basemen Greg Jeffries and infielder Keith Miller for pitcher Bret Saberhagen and infielder Bill Pecota.

McReynolds’ record would stand until being broken by Phillies second basemen Chase Utley in 2009.

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