The 1990s marked some major changes in baseball. Biceps of first basemen became the size of tree trunks. Shortstops had birth weights of 200 pounds. On the defensive side of things, didn't seem to be as commonplace but the value of defense wasn't as vital as hitting home runs. This was the case all across baseball and occurring with the New York Mets.
We checked in on the worst defenders of the 1960s then followed it up with a check through in the 1970s. Most recently, we looked through the 1980s to find the worst defensive seasons by Mets players using errors, Rtot, and WAR for a little bit of balance. Today, we check in on the 1990s.
Thus far, a few conclusions have been made. Rod Kanehl's 32 errors from 1962 is still the leader in the clubhouse. Rusty Staub survived the 1980s with a -18 Rtot and -2.6 WAR from the 1974 season. the 1980s had some challengers. I suspect the 1990 years will, too.
Worst defenders of the 1990 Mets
Howard Johnson 28 errors
Gregg Jefferies -13 Rtot
Gregg Jefferies -0.9 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1991 Mets
Howard Johnson 31 errors
Howard Johnson -15 Rtot
Howard Johnson -1.4 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1992 Mets
Eddie Murray/Bill Pecota 12 errors
Howard Johnson -25 Rtot
Howard Johnson -2.7 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1993 Mets
Jeff Kent 22 errors
Jeff Kent - 20 Rtot
Jeff Kent -1.6 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1994 Mets
Bobby Bonilla 18 errors
Jose Vizcaino -10 Rtot
Joe Orsulak/David Segui -1.1 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1995 Mets
Bobby Bonilla 14 errors
Brett Butler -15 Rtot
Brett Butler -1.3 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1996 Mets
Rey Ordonez 27 errors
Butch Huskey -7 Rtot
Butch Huskey -1.4 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1997 Mets
Butch Huskey 15 errors
Carl Everett -7 Rtot
Butch Huskey -1.1 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1998 Mets
Rey Ordonez 17 errors
Brian McRae -8 Rtot
Todd Hundley/Brian McRae -0.6 WAR
Worst defenders of the 1999 Mets
Mike Piazza 11 errors
Brian McRae -22 Rtot
Brian McRae/Rickey Henderson -1.9 WAR
For the first time, we have a pair of hat tricks in these defensive statistics. In 1991, Howard Johnson had the most errors, worst Rtot and the lowest defensive WAR. In 1993, Jeff Kent repeated the trifecta with fewer errors but worse metrics in the other two categories.
The single-season record for errors went to Johnson in 1991 with the Rtot victory going to him in 1992 when he also set the worst defensive WAR in Mets history.
Amazingly, the 1990s had a few new lows. Kent and Brian McRae led their teams with a worse Rtot score than the old record from 1974. However, neither beat what Johnson did in 1992. His -2.7 WAR on defense is also a brand new record and takes the heat off of Staub.
What went wrong for Johnson this year? After such a bad year on defense in 1991, the Mets decided to try turning HoJo into a center fielder. While errors were not plentiful, his other metrics were horrible. It may very well end up being the worse defensive season on the books in Mets history.
We leave the 1990s with Johnson in the lead with the worst defensive season under his belt now. Can anyone in the 2000s top it? Next week, we find out.