Two decades done, a couple more to go. In our search to find the worst defensive players in New York Mets history, we escaped the 1960s and 1970s with a few conclusions.
In the 1960s, there was no single player that stood out mostly because there were a lot of changes to the roster and the worst defenders probably didn't spent too long in the big leagues. Marv Throneberry is the default answer but when we went into the 1970s, I found someone who may have been worse.
Rusty Staub was an important member of the Mets in the decade but only for his bat. However, his defense was atrocious.
Our current leaders in the three considered statistics are Rod Kanehl with 32 errors in 1962 and a pair of numbers from Staub's 1974 season. That year, he had a -18 Rtot and -2.6 WAR. Will we have new winners in the next decade?
Worst defenders of the 1980 Mets
Frank Taveras 25 errors
Frank Taveras -17 Rtot
Claudell Washington -1.8 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1981 Mets
Frank Taveras 24 errors
Frank Taveras/Lee Mazzilli -15 Rtot
Lee Mazilli -1.9 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1982 Mets
Ron Gardenhire 29 errors
Dave Kingman -16 Rtot
Dave Kingman -2.5 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1983 Mets
Hubie Brooks/Jose Oquendo 21 errors
Junior Ortiz -9 Rtot
Dave Kingman -1.0 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1984 Mets
Hubie Brooks 29 errors
Wally Backman -10 Rtot
Darryl Strawberry -1.1 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1985 Mets
Rafael Santana 25 errors
George Foster -7 Rtot
George Foster -1.3 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1986 Mets
Howard Johnson 20 errors
Tim Teufel -7 Rtot
Darryl Strawberry -1.3 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1987 Mets
Howard Johnson 26 errors
Darryl Strawberry -9 Rtot
Darryl Strawberry -1.5 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1988 Mets
Howard Johnson 18 errors
Gary Carter -10 Rtot
Kevin McReynolds -1.6 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1989 Mets
Howard Johnson 24 errors
Gregg Jefferies -15 Rtot
Gregg Jefferies -1.3 WAR
There were certainly some formidable challengers during these seasons with the Mets. In the decade, Ron Gardenhire and Hubie Brooks tied with 29 errors. While it doesn't set a new high for the franchise, when we consider the era, it's a bit worse.
Staub's numbers also didn't fall but they came close to being matched. Frank Taveras had an awful stint defensively with the Mets. In 1980, his -17 Rtot nearly matched what Staub did several years earlier. Then there's Dave Kingman in 1982. His -2.5 WAR on defense came maybe a single error away from falling below what Staub did. His 18 errors as a first baseman that year played a major part in why this was such a disastrous year in the field for the slugger.
Defense was a bigger part of the team's success in this decade with Keith Hernandez winning multiple Gold Gloves at first base and others providing the pitchers with a little more trust than usual. That wasn't the case for everyone but overall it seemed the worst defensive seasons came from guys who were contributing in other ways.
Maybe this changes in the 1990s, particularly in the first part of the decade. I'm curious to see what Howard Johnson's numbers look like. Remember that year he was in center field? I think we might have a challenger.