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Overlooked and Underrated Mets: First basemen

This installment features a Hall of Fame manager, a could-be star hobbled by injuries, and a couple of on-base specialists.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Today, we present part two of our 10-part series highlighting overlooked and underrated players in Mets history. In this installment, we put the spotlight on five such first basemen. In case you missed it, check out the series' first installment, which highlights the contributions of three catchers not named Carter, Hundley, or Piazza.

With that, here are the Mets' most overlooked and underrated first basemen. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section, and remember to vote in the poll at the bottom of the page!

Joe Torre, 1976

Joe Torre’s playing days with the Mets are best known for a game in 1975 in which he hit into a record-tying four double plays. But Torre rebounded from a rough 1975 season with a surprisingly strong 1976 campaign that saw the 36-year-old hit .306/.358/.406 with a 123 wRC+ in a part-time role. The Mets made Torre their player-manager in 1977, and he retired as a player shortly thereafter.

Dave Magadan, 1987-1992

While Dave Magadan was known as a good singles hitter with strong plate discipline, his offensive skills were almost certainly undervalued at the time in which he played. Magadan was an on-base machine, hitting .292/.391/.386 with a 126 wRC+ and walking nearly a hundred more times than he struck out (347 to 248) in his 701 games as a Met. From 1987 to 1992, Magadan averaged 2.6 fWAR per year and had a tremendous 5.4-WAR season in 1990, when he hit .328/.417/.457 with a 147 wRC+, six home runs, 72 RBI, and 74 runs scored.

Unfortunately, the Mets never found Magadan a permanent home on the diamond; instead, they repeatedly shuffled him around to make room for other players, like aging first basemen Mike Marshall and Eddie Murray. Doesn’t Magadan seem like the type of player that, were he around today, would almost certainly end up in Oakland? Funny, because that’s exactly what happened in 1997 and 1998, when GMs Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane signed Magadan to one-year deals that saw him hit a combined .308/.407/.400 with a 120 wRC+ in a platoon role for the A's.

Rico Brogna

Rico Brogna, a highly touted prospect whom the Mets acquired from the Tigers, burst onto the scene in 1994, hitting an impressive .351/.380/.626 with a 163 wRC+ in 39 games. After the players’ strike cut his rookie campaign short, Brogna continued to produce as the Mets’ starting first baseman for the next year and a half. In 1995, his only full season with the Mets, Brogna hit .289/.342/.485 with a 117 wRC+, 22 home runs, 76 RBI, and 72 runs scored. Brogna then suffered a season-ending injury in 1996 and the Mets traded him to Philadelphia, where he had three solid if unspectacular years.

Rico Brogna, a highly touted prospect whom the Mets acquired from the Tigers, burst onto the scene in 1994, hitting an impressive .351/.380/.626 with a 163 wRC+ in 39 games. After the players’ strike cut his rookie campaign short, Brogna continued to produce as the Mets’ starting first baseman for the next year and a half. In 1995, his only full season with the Mets, Brogna hit .289/.342/.485 with a 117 wRC+, 22 home runs, 76 RBI, and 72 runs scored. Brogna then suffered a season-ending injury in 1996 and the Mets traded him to Philadelphia, where he had three solid if unspectacular years.

While Brogna’s career with the Mets came to an unfortunate and abrupt end, it was productive while it lasted, as he hit a combined .291/.342/.495 with a 119 wRC+ in his 228 games in New York.

Jason Phillips, 2003

After Mo Vaughn went down with a career-ending knee injury in May 2003, former backup catcher Jason Phillips filled in admirably at first base, hitting .298/.373/.442 with a 117 wRC+, 11 home runs, and 58 RBI. Phillips was not able to repeat his success in subsequent years, however, and the Mets traded him to the Dodgers for Kaz Ishii in 2005.

Josh Satin, 2013

It’s hard for Mets fans to forget Josh Satin’s productive stint as a platoon first baseman, seeing as it happened just a year ago. But it’s easy to overlook just how good Satin was with the bat in 2013. In 221 plate appearances, Satin hit an impressive .279/.376/.405 with a 125 wRC+, and an outstanding .317/.404/.476 with a 151 wRC+ against lefties. Satin was no slouch against righties, either, compiling an above-league-average .250/.354/.352 batting line, good for a 105 wRC+. Perhaps most impressively, the on-base machine tied a Mets rookie record set by Steve Henderson—who will make an appearance later in this series—by reaching base in 29 consecutive games that he started.