Who was Best – Beltran or Strawberry?

Loyal MetsToday visitor and commenter “Walnutz15” made me aware of an SNY poll that I had missed from a few nights ago — who was the “best” outfielder in Mets history?

An interesting poll, so I figured let’s throw it out to you, the MetsToday visitor.

By using some fancy code generously provided by Baseball-Reference.com, below are the Mets stats of Beltran and Strawberry (note: though the stats are showing years other than when they were with the Mets, the totals at the bottom reflect ONLY time with the Mets; seems to be some kind of glitch with the code).

Carlos Beltran

Darryl Strawberry

Interestingly, both players spent 8 years with the Mets, so in that way it is a fair comparison. I have to say I’m a little surprised that Strawberry’s OPS is higher than Beltran’s, because Straw played at a time when pitchers had more of an edge than they did during Beltran’s era. I guess that just goes to show how great an offensive force Strawberry really was.

So, looking at the numbers, and examining your memories, and based solely on performance on the field, which player do you deem “best”? And if you had to make a choice, who would you rather have on your team?

Answer in the poll and please explain your decision in the comments.

Who was the "best" outfielder in Mets history?

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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.
  1. NormE July 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm
    Straw’s offensive numbers do seem to give him an edge and he was an exciting player to watch. But, I remember when Kingman was with the Mets. You never wanted to walk away from the tv when he was coming up. The same with Straw.

    However, Straw was an indifferent fielder with a strong arm.

    Carlos was the best defensive centerfielder over an extended period of time in Mets history. Being an outstanding defender at a more important position, and with offensive numbers not far off from Straw, swings my vote to Carlos.

  2. hart July 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm
    Aside from the numbers, here’s my overall feeling: Straw, like most of his ’86 brethren, exhibited a stronger will-to-win. I’d take Straw.
  3. Jeff Gamso July 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm
    Straw was better overall (hitting outweighs his fielding). But day to day I’d rather have Beltran.

    Straw was (this is based on memory, not data) an incredibly streaky hitter. When he’d get that big looping swing in order, he’d mash hits and homers right and left. And you could tell by watching him when he was a day or two away from going on a tear.

    But then he’d lose it for a while, and it was sad to watch him swing and miss and swing and miss.

    Beltran’s steadier, which means on any given day he’s less likely to hit the ball out but also less likely to go 0-5.

    • SiddFinch July 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm
      I agree with that, Straw would disappear, and usually at the worst times then boom he’d uncoil that swing and go on a tear. But there always seems something unfinished about Darryl, like there was always that higher level of performance within his grasp that he just couldn’t reach.

      As a Mets fan of that era I always felt if only he’d put just a bit more effort you’d be talking about him in the same breath with Mays or Aaron but it just never happened. I think also looking back Straw had a lot of unfair pressure on him though.

      As soon as he was drafted he was dubbed as franchise savior and he didn’t disappoint. Time has been kind to his legacy with the Mets and rightfully so.

      As for Beltran I think he’s the smoothest position player to ever put on a Met uniform in his prime he made everything look effortless-a true 5 Tool player. Despite his impression of a tree on that 3rd strike in the ’06 playoffs he would get my vote for the Best.

  4. daxmontana August 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm
    Don’t rememeber much of Straw in the blue and orange – man you guys are old. So, in large part for the reasons that have been stated (darryl had three years with an ops+ of 160 or better, Cbelt – 0) and the fact that the lanky lefty helped bring home a ring, I’ve cast my vote for Strawberry

    ed.-Decision obviously bolstered by Daaaarryl’s performance for Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. “You, Strawberry, hit a homerun” “Ok Skip!”

  5. Walnutz15 August 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    As a tremendous fan of Strawberry (go back to every little league baseball card I ever filled out “Favorite Player” on for proof), I found this to be a great debate amongst Met fans.

    ………especially when it comes to fan perception.

    Personally: if I’m taking an outfielder, and 2 players are standing in front of me: Beltran or Straw?

    I’m going Beltran every time…….and have seen both in the primes of their respective careers.

    Carlos Beltran, at the top of his game – was better than Strawberry in every aspect of the game, IMHO.

    Straw had a stronger arm; and at the end of the day – had more tape measure-shots……but a HR is a HR is a HR.

    Beltran easily has my vote over Strawberry – and yes, I’m fully aware that D-Straw “has a ring in a Met uniform”.

    As a pure hitter, Beltran trumps Straw – if you’re asking me for my honest opinion….although, the argument could sway in favor of Straw – given some of the band boxes these guys now play in (40+ HRs on an annual basis might not be a stretch, FWIW – imagine him at Citizen’s Bank?)

    Met fans will always be enamored with Strawberry’s “Ted Williams-like” potential…..but let’s face it here, he didn’t have the kind of career that “exceeded abilities”, or even expectation.

    Whether it be the drugs or alcohol……I put that all aside.

    He was immature, above all else — and would have been slaughtered by the fanbase, provided it had outlets such as we have now. He has been forgiven much much more than I know he would have been…with some of the personalities we have commenting on everyone, top to bottom – on a daily basis.

    Beltran was never appreciated as much as he should have been while on the field as a Met, I’m firmly convinced. Injuries and everything else aside, the guy’s career has been impressive – especially in not having that kind of expectation……which in fairness, Strawberry never asked to be put on him.

    Beltran’s abilities and numbers speak for themselves….and it’s not his fault that Strawberry was his own worst enemy. It is what it is.

    “He (Darryl Strawberry) is not a dog; a dog is loyal and runs after balls….” – Lasorda on Strawberry

    At the same time, I’m convinced that most of Beltran’s problems began because he played at full-tilt. Until 2009, he never really hit the D.L. either.

    I can’t see how someone would say Beltran isn’t the better player, but am always open to any differing viewpoint.

    • David Howard's Nutsack August 2, 2011 at 11:50 am
      Come on, Walnutz. Admit it: you were just as surprised as the rest of us when you looked back and realized Straw’s numbers were better than Beltran’s. There’s a reason for that: the fan base didn’t like Strawberry as much as you think. And there were good reasons for some of that. Darryl was a dog at times. But so was Beltran.

      Beltran’s boosters love to point out how negative we fans are about his performance. They hide behind numbers when it’s pretty clear to anyone with a pair of eyes that Beltran isn’t the most motivated player to ever don a Mets uni. So if we go by numbers, Straw wins. If we go by effort, it’s a draw. If we go by heart, Straw wins. And if we go by winning, Straw wins (of course).


      • Walnutz15 August 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm
        I wasn’t surprised to see that, actually. If anything, I was definitely surprised to see Beltran being so close in peripheral numbers to Straw – especially after missing out on so many plate appearances.

        What Strawberry did was impressive, there’s no denying that. After all, he didn’t exactly dedicate himself to the game during the 80’s….and had many distractions amidst the championship season of ’86.

        With Beltran, all you have to do is take a look at the flat out incompetence of the Minaya-led Mets regime – who thought that cortisone shots and band-aids would get these guys back on a field quicker than placing them on the D.L. to possibly heal.

        Beltran was one of those guys who never hit the D.L. until he was bone-on-bone. Don’t think that didn’t have anything to do with the Mets wanting to keep fans around and buying tickets…..as a “Beltran’s done for the year” announcement would have fans throwing in the towel.

        What did they do instead? Get him back to “day-to-day” status, in an attempt to string the fanbase along….why Beltran went along with it for as long as he did?

        Anyone’s guess – until it finally came time to make the right decision for his career. This is why he’s villified by certain sects of Met fans, IMHO.

        And with the way it was going for Beltran at the dish…..I don’t see why he wouldn’t have continued to put up great numbers over that span in ’09-’10…..similar to how Met fans talk about Straw “if he didn’t do the drugs”.

        If you ask me, I’m gonna say every single time – that Beltran is the best outfielder the Mets ever had.

        Best slugging outfielder? D-Straw

        Best complete outfielder? Beltran

  6. John August 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm
    The answer to the Darryl/Doc questions is it SHOULD HAVE BEEN Darryl/Doc.

    Here, taking the eras into account, I think it is clear that Strawberry was clearly the superior OFFENSIVE player. However, the poll question was who was the best Mets OF, not who was the best Mets offensive OF, or the Mets OF who won a WS.

    When taking Beltran’s defense into account, and the fact that he put his numbers up as a gold glove CF (for whatever GG’s are worth), Beltran was the better Mets OF. I’ll take the middle of the order gold glove CF anyday of the week over the offensively gifted RF.

    • David Howard's Nutsack August 2, 2011 at 11:45 am
      Funny, I thought we were talking about the Carlos Beltran who plays too deep in CF. I didn’t realize there was a great CF also named Beltran.

      And on the Mets, no less! COINCIDENCES!!!