This Date In Mets History: January 29 — Rule Change Puts Keith Hernandez In The Record Books

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Mex will forever reign as the official king of the game-winning RBI.

On this date in 1989, the so-called game-winning run batted in (GWRBI) was discontinued as an official statistic. In nine seasons since the flawed attempt to measure clutch hitting introduced in 1980, Keith Hernandez racked up the most GWRBIs, 129.

The GWRBI was awarded to the player in each game who drove in the run that put his team ahead to stay. The stat was inconsistent to say the least. For one thing, it gave a ground-out RBI in the first inning of a 10-0 rout the same weight as a walk-off home run, and a grand slam with your team down by three in the eighth could be wiped out by a bullpen meltdown. Also, it favors players on better teams.

Since Hernandez also holds the official record for most GWRBI in a season — 24 in 1985 — we looked at how he accomplished that to find some examples of the stat’s arbitrary nature. For instance, on 10 occasions that year Keith knocked in a run in the first inning that stood up, buoyed by additional runs and strong pitching. At the other end of the spectrum, he did put the Mets in front to stay in the ninth inning four times, including a late-season walk-off single against division rival St. Louis.

While 10 of those 24 games were one-run affairs, lending some legitimacy to the stat, others ended with final scores of 16-4, 10-1, 7-0, 7-1, and 9-4. Therefore, not all GWRBIs are created equal. And aren’t game-TYING RBIs just as valuable?

Of course, we Mets fans who watched Keith play in the mid-’80s don’t need statistics to know what a clutch performer he was, but if Major League Baseball decrees that he is number one “all-time” at delivering important runs, we won’t argue the point.

Birthdays

Happy 45th birthday to Kevin Roberson. In only 46 plate appearances with the 1996 Mets, the switch-hitting outfielder hit three home runs and drove in nine. Somehow that, plus an .848 OPS, wasn’t enough to prevent him from being banished to the minors for the remaining eight years of his pro career.

Sergio Ferrer, who turns 62 today, was acquired after the 1977 season in the first flat-out trade between the Mets and Yankees, with Roy Staiger moving from Shea to the Bronx. Neither player made any significant contribution to his new employer.

Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection

Actor Tom Selleck turns 68 today. Among the films he has starred in is Mr. Baseball, the supporting cast of which includes one-time Mets catcher Greg Goossen. Goossen, who died in 2011, enjoyed a fairly successful post-baseball career in movies thanks largely to his friendship with Gene Hackman (who turns 83 tomorrow), often as the actor’s stand-in in such films as The Quick and the Dead. That movie also starred Sharon Stone who, in 1985, was featured in a two-part episode of TV’s “Magnum, P.I.,” which starred...Tom Selleck.

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