21. Keith Hernandez
Home runs as a Met: 80
Home run rate: 1 per 46 plate appearances (2.17%)
And now our series arrives at a player, Keith Hernandez, who needs no introduction whatsoever. All the good Keith stories have been told. He helped the Mets win the World Series in 1986. He starred on “Seinfeld.” His first name is an Amazin’ Avenue meme. His insightful and often hilarious color commentary helps make the SNY television broadcasting team one of the best in baseball. Let’s just skip the fluff and get down to brass tacks, then, shall we?
Keith Hernandez was an outstanding baseball player. A defensive wizard at first base, a terrific hitter, and an undisputed leader, Hernandez won the National League MVP award as a Cardinal in 1979 and only narrowly missed getting it again as a Met in 1984. Keith was a high-average, high-on-base hitter who could be counted on to turn in a strong, and occasionally outstanding, count of doubles every year. Famously, though, his power mostly stopped there.
Unfortunately for Keith, his 162 career home runs in 17 years was simply too much—or too few, more accurately—for a critical mass of Hall of Fame voters to overlook. That said, an alternative reading of Keith’s lack of home run power serves to highlight what a great player he was: It would have killed the career of most other major league first basemen, let alone starting first basemen on championship-contending teams. You simply don’t stick at that position in the majors if you don’t have a strong power game—but Keith did. In fact, he so thoroughly defied convention as a first basemen that he turned in a near-Hall-of-Fame career.
He didn’t make it to Cooperstown, but no matter. Keith Hernandez is a New York Mets treasure. Accounting for both his playing history and his time in the booth, Keith has been a fixture in Metsville for over 30 years. He is one of the best position players in franchise history and is enshrined in the Mets Hall of Fame. One wonders why the hell the Mets haven’t retired his number yet.
Keith Hernandez hit 80 home runs as a Met, which places him 21st on the Mets’ all-time home run leaders list. It is likely that he will get bumped from that spot this year, and it is all but certain that, one day, he will be jettisoned from the top 25 altogether. No matter: He’s Keith Hernandez.
Keith Hernandez as a Met