Originally posted by Steven Gallanter View Post
Originally posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
Wayne Garrett was not destined for the HOF, but he was a guy who could have been the greatest third baseman in Met history at the time he departed the Mets, a team that, for so many years, had a legendary hole at 3B. This was not an example of stupid position shifts; it was an example of being a sucker for big names and not recognizing what they had.

Garrett’s rookie year, at age 21, wasn’t all that, but he DID play as a platoon regular (with Ed Charles) for a team that won a World Championship. He played 3B primarily, with some time at 2B, but 2B was manned by Ken Boswell and Al Weis. The Mets were excited in 1970; they brought in Joe Foy to play 3B. Foy was terrible, he became a joke, and the trade that brought him in drew criticism because it sent two (2) top prospects (Amos Otis and Bob Johnson) to the Royals for a guy who stunk. Garrett’s numbers didn’t seem all that; he hit .254 with 12 HRs in 366 Abs, but he had a .390 OBP with a bit of power. Of course, this was the age where walks were ignored, but a .390 OBP should have given someone a heads up. Here was a guy, 22 years old, who took a huge leap forward from age 21 to where he showed he could play regularly at a position that was a perpetual problem for the Mets.

The Mets, of course, had other ideas. They went out and acquired Bob Aspromonte, the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the big leagues. Aspromonte had been an All-Star, but he was past prime, and after a good start, he faded, and Garrett was reinserted. Being jerked around didn’t suit Garrett will; he regressed in power, but he still kept his great batting eye, but the Mets were focused on his low BA and loss of power. Garrett didn’t seem to be the man for 3B, so the Mets ponied up Nolan Ryan and Leroy Stanton for Jim Fregosi. Fregosi was done as a regular by mid-season, and Garrett was reinserted; he only hit 2 HRs, but he hit .232 with a .374 OBP.

Garrett was given the 3B job in 1973 because the Mets were out of ideas. He hit .256 with a .348 OBP, but his power came back and he hit 16 HRs. His BA slipped in 1974 to .224 and his HRs slipped to 13, but he drew 89 walks for a .337 OBP. The next year, 1975, he cut back on his swing and posted a .374 OWP. In 1976, Garrett was traded to Montreal in midseason; he again hit only 6 HRs, but he drew 82 walks for a .231 BA but a .356 OBP. This was the end of Garrett’s time as a regular; he had a great year in 1977, but in a part-time role only.

Garrett was not a guy who was destined for the HOF, but he was the solution to the Mets’ malaise at 3B at the time. Had the Mets committed themselves to Garrett, they may well not have traded Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Bob Johnson, and Lee Stanton. Or they may have made wiser trades, instead of seeking guys who were once good to play 3B. Garrett got a platoon tag, but he has a very, very slight platoon drag in those years when he played the most, and an overall platoon drag that is around average. Garrett’s 1970 season was enough for a team in the Mets’ situation to commit to Garrett as their guy at 3B; they certainly should not have dumped him for the big name that could no longer play. I believe that if Garrett had been given the job in 1971 for good, he would have put up numerous seasons consistent with his better years. That’s not a HOFer; it wouldn’t have even been an All Star in those years, but it would have been a move that was better than the ones they made that sent out talented youngsters for non-solutions at 3B. Where, pray tell, would the 1970s Mets have been if they kept Ryan and Amos Otis? Not committing to Garrett is a major reason those guys went for old hamburger.
Wayne Garrett was dubbed "the Mets Huckleberry Finn" by WOR's Bob Murphy. Garrett's 8 HRs in September of '73 enabled the 'You Gotta Believe' Mets to weasel past the Cubs and Pirates and into the World Series where they gave the A's a tussle.