The Mets do not have a history of great hitting shortstops.
This is an understatement. Quite frankly, until the last few years, most Mets shortstops have been absolutely dreadful hitters. Think of the World Series teams; their shortstops were Buddy Harrelson (1969, 1973), Rafael Santana (1986), and Rey Ordonez/Mike Bordick (2000). For years, the Mets eschewed offense at shortstop for great defense, and sometimes it worked. Most of the time, as evidenced by the Mets’ lack of success, it didn’t.
So who’s the best of this sorry lot? Let’s take a look.
Honorable Mention: Jose Reyes (2003)
Reyes’ 2003 season would have made the list at #4 on the list had he played 12 more games in 2003. Since he didn’t play half of the Mets’ games at shortstop in 2003, he can’t make the top ten. But this was the first legitimately good season by a Mets shortstop in team history. More on him later.
#10: Kevin Elster, 1989
Kevin Elster was generally not a good hitter. He didn’t draw walks. He didn’t hit for power. He didn’t hit for average. This season really isn’t good at all by any objective measure. I have nothing good to say about Kevin Elster in 1989, no fond remembrances, nothing notable at all, other than the ten homers he hit here were only the second time in team history where a Mets shortstop hit ten or more home runs. Actually amend that statement – it was only the second time in team history where a Mets shortstop hit ten home runs, because neither hit more than ten. It would remain the second time in team history where a Mets shortstop hit ten home runs for another 17 years.
So why did he make the list? Because the other Mets seasons that didn’t make the list were really, REALLY bad.
#9: Bud Harrelson, 1973
The only thing notable about Bud Harrelson in 1973 was that he got to play in the World Series despite being a dreadful hitter. At least Harrelson was good at drawing walks and getting on base; if he ever had made enough contact to hit .300, he could have almost been a good hitter. He never did that. But hey…he did get into this nifty fight with Pete Rose in the 1973 NLCS. So he has that going for him.
#8: Eddie Bressoud, 1966
You know what makes Eddie Bressoud’s 1966 season notable? He hit ten home runs this season, the first time in Mets history a shortstop hit ten home runs. Elster would become the second man 23 years later. Jose Reyes would become the third man 17 years after that (and he actually hit MORE than ten homers!). He also drew a decent number of walks. Other than that, I can’t think of a single thing to say about Eddie Bressoud and his 1966 season.
#7: Kevin Elster, 1991
Kevin Elster makes the list twice! Just think of all the greats that didn’t make the list if not one, but TWO Kevin Elster seasons made the cut. And this is before Kevin Elster suddenly and inexplicably developed power in his early to mid 30’s, to boot. Do you see why I waited a week to post the shortstops list now? I’d almost rather talk about Mets rumors that surely will never come to pass than talk about this awful list of shortstops. Seriously, two Kevin Elster seasons! How did that happen?
#6: Jose Vizcaino, 1995
You want to know how utterly unnotable Jose Vizcaino’s stay with the Mets was? As you can tell, I have tried to include images with each of these columns, ways to remember the greats that have played with the Mets. When I tried a Google Image Search for “Jose Vizcaino, Mets,” this was the only image that came up with Jose Vizcaino in Mets gear. This was it! Vizcaino hit a fluky .287, which helped cover for his lousy walk rate somewhat, and added an impressive 21 doubles. Other than that, awful season. #6 in Mets history.
Up Next: The Top Five, including some actual good seasons!