Happy Birthday Brian Giles

Brian Giles, second baseman for the New York Mets in 1983Before there was Brian Giles the on-base machine, there was Brian Giles the light-hitting second baseman for the New York Mets.

Giles epitomized everything that was wrong with the organization in 1983, but you have to look at the season before to understand the whole story.

In 1982, a 22-year-old firecracker named Wally Backman fought his way into 96 games, batting mostly at the bottom of the order, and finished the season with a .272 AVG and .387 OBP (73 points higher than leadoff man Mookie Wilson and tops on the team by a longshot). However, the young Backman made 14 errors, which did not sit well with a hierarchy that previously valued the Gold Glove of Doug Flynn.

So in spring training of 1983, instead of installing him at second base with the hopes that the hardworking Backman would eventually improve defensively (you know, kinda like Dan Murphy in LF this year?), they instead made the position an open competition, and finally settled on Brian Giles as the starter. Mind you, this was the 1983 Mets, a team going nowhere fast.

In 145 games for the last-place Mets, Giles — often hitting 6th or 7th in the lineup — batted .245 with a .308 OBP and .298 SLG. These numbers actually look decent next to his double play partner Jose Oquendo, who as a 19-year-old rookie batted .213. On the field, Giles led the team in assists with 390, made 14 errors, posted a .980 fielding PCT, and turned 90 of the Mets’ 171 DPs. Meantime, Wally Backman was igniting Davey Johnson’s Tidewater Tides toward a AAA title. The following season, Giles and Backman switched places, and Giles did not return to the bigs until 1985, with Milwaukee.

After 1983, Giles played in only 88 more MLB games, finishing his career in Seattle in 1990 — five years prior to the MLB debut of the “other” Brian Giles.

Also born on this date: Bob MacDonald (1965), Eric Hillman (1966), and Jim Duquette’s love child Orber Moreno (1977).

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.