Welcome Back Kevin McReynolds
Not long after Mike Francesa announced that Jason Bay accepted the Mets’ contract offer, I received a phone call from good friend and occasional MetsToday contributing writer John Fitzgerald.
John: “Hey, we should invent the internet while there’s still time.”
John: “Well, it’s 1987 isn’t it? I mean, didn’t the Mets just sign Kevin McReynolds?”
Well played, Mr. Peanuts.
Indeed, Jason Bay today is not far from Kevin McReynolds circa ’87. There are some obvious differences — namely, that McReynolds was only 27 in his first year with the Mets (while Bay is 31), and he was acquired via trade rather than free agency. However, Bay at 31 and McReynolds at 27 are quite similar in many other aspects. It may be easiest to describe McReynolds at the time, and see how closely he compares.
Kevin McReynolds, in 1987, WAS:
– a righthanded, power-hitting left fielder standing 6’1″, 210 lbs. (Bay is 6’2″, 200)
– a player with one year of postseason experience
– expected to provide 25-30 HR, 90-100 RBI, and a .275 – .290 AVG
– a hard-nosed player who was fundamentally sound in all areas of the game
– an above-average runner who provided unexpected speed and smarts on the bases
– a quiet, reserved individual with most of his experience playing in a small market
– counted on to provide a power boost in the middle of the Mets’ lineup
It can be argued that Bay will walk more often than McReynolds ever did, but he’ll also strike out more — both areas are more a factor of the difference in the general approach of hitters in the two different eras than in the players’ skill sets (I believe that hitters tended to make contact earlier in counts, and worked harder to avoid strikeouts, 20+ years ago). It might also be argued that McReynolds — who played CF for the Padres — came in to Flushing as a much better fielder than Bay (though, it can be debated that his defense eroded significantly by the time he left).
Still, though, the similarities between the two players coming in, and the way they are / were expected to perform and contribute through their years with the Mets, is uncanny. It’s like deja vu all over again — or traveling back in a time machine.
If indeed I find myself driving a flux-capacitor-powered DeLorean into the Citi Field parking lot, I won’t be surprised to see “McReynolds” batting fifth behind Carlos Beltran. And I’ll be sure to race home via my newly invented information superhighway.