Oct 17, 2015

1988 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Out Fielder: Kevin McReynolds (1987-1991)

Walter Kevin McReynolds was born October 16, 1959 in Little Rock Arkansas. He was a star athlete at Sylvan high school, at Little Rock & eventually The Kevin McReynolds Sports Complex there would be was named in his honor.

The six foot right hand hitter, attended the University of Arkansas & was the San Diego Padres first round pick in 1981. He went on to win back to back minor league MVP awards in both the California League & Pacific Coast League batting over .350 both times.

He was brought up briefly in June 1983 by the Padres, hitting a HR in his first career game. Overall in 34 games he hit 4 HRs batting .221. In the 1984 Padres NL Championship season he was their everyday center fielder, leading all N.L. out fielders in assists (18) put outs (422) & was third in fielding (.991%). The Padres had a strong line up made up of young guys like McReynolds & Tony Gwynn, along with veterans Steve Garvey, Craig Nettles, & Gary Templeton. McReynolds hit 20 HRs with 26 doubles, 75 RBIs, a .278 batting average & a .465 slugging %.

In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs he hit .300 (3-10) with four RBIs, including a HR off George Frazier in the Padres 7-1 Game #3 win. He missed the World Series due to injury.

In 1985 he led all N.L. centerfielders in assists with 13 posting a .993 fielding % (third in the NL). He dropped off with the bat, to 15 HRs & 24 doubles & a .234 average.

In 1986 he returned to top form, as he drove in 96 runs (6th in the NL) slugged 26 HRs, hit over 30 doubles for the first time of three consecutive seasons, and batted .299. He moved over to play more left field, and posted a .982 fielding percentage at both center & left field positions.

After the Mets won the 1986 World Series they believed rookie Kevin Mitchell was a bad influence on Daryl Strawberry & Dwight Gooden. Since the latter two were All Stars, Mitchell was the odd man out, especially since he was a native of San Diego. In the off season the Mets got McReynolds in a trade for Kevin Mitchell, and two top prospects; Sean Abner & Stan Jefferson.

The quiet, soft spoken McReynolds came to New York on a raucous ballclub and stayed out of the spot light. He didn’t give the media anything interesting to quote him on, and no matter what McReynolds did they seemed to always want more. Looking back, he had some good years behind the superstars of Strawberry & Keith Hernandez but never got the credit he deserved.

Quietly he took over as the Mets leftfielder, batting sixth on Opening Day 1987. After a hitless debut he went on to hit safely in 12 of his next 13 games, including three straight HR games from April 9th to April 11th. On June 20th he hit a sac fly in the bottom of the 9th inning for the game winning run against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Earlier that week he also had another stretch where he hit HRs in three consecutive games. On July 19th he had a walk off RBI base hit against the Cincinnati Reds & then another on August 8th against Lee Smith & the Chicago Cubs. In August he was most productive driving in 22 runs in the month, while continuing a 13 game hit streak that began in July.

In the final week of the month he hit a pair of HRs while driving in four runs against the Pirates on September 25th. Two days later he hit a three run HR & drove in four runs against the Pirates on the last home game of the season. 

Overall on the season, McReynolds debut in New York was quiet with words but successful at the plate, he hit 29 HRs (9th in the NL), with 32 doubles, 5 triples 95 RBIs, batting .276 while stealing 14 bases.

He started out 1988 with a huge Opening Day in Montreal. McReynolds had four hits with two HRs & four RBIs in the Mets 10-6 win over the Expos. He had nine hits in the first three games & was batting over .400 on April 20th. On April 17th he tied up a game agsint the St. Louis Cardinals with an 8th inning single off Todd Worrell, the Mets went on to a 3-2 win with Kevin Elster's walk off base hit. On May 11th in Houston, McReynolds singled off Dave Smith in the top of the 10th inning, scoring Howard Johnson with the game winning hit.

On June 4th he hit a walk off HR against Mike Capel to beat the Chicago Cubs. The next day he had three hits & drove in three runs in the 11-3 win. On June 21st he hit a grand slam off Pittsburgh’s Doug Drabek, while driving in five runs in Ron Darling's 9-0 shutout against the Pirates, sat Shea Stadium.

At the end of June into July he drove in runs in five straight games during an eight game hit streak. In mid June hit then hit HRs in three straight games he played in on a road trip to Houston & Atlanta.

He also drove in a total of 14 runs with 9 RBIs in of 12 games before the All Star break. On July 14th he hit a three run HR in Atlanta, then won the game with an RBI base hit scoring Daryl Strawberry in the top of the 10th inning.

On a road trip to Philadelphia in late July, McReynolds broke a 5-5 tie with an RBI single in the top of the 7th inning in an eventual 7-5 Met win. The next day he had a huge four hit, five RBI day topped with a three run HR.

In the month he drove in 22 runs with six HRs. Two weeks later on August 11th he hit another grand slam HR, this time at Wrigley Field driving in another five runs on the day.

On August 6th he hit a solo HR to tie up a game at Shea, against the Expos, leading to a 4-3 win. On AUgust 24th he helped beat the Los Angeles Dodgers with an 8th inning game winning sac fly off Orel Hershiser. When the Dodgers came to Shea the next week he drove in the first of two Mets runs with a double off John Tudor , helping Doc Gooden in a 2-1 win over Tudor. 

On September 22nd the Mets clinched the NL Eastern Division, as McReynolds had a pair of hits driving in a run in the 7th on a base hit. That night Ron Darling pitched a complete game win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. Down the September stretch he hit seven HRs with 23 RBIs, while having nine multiple hit games including five straight multi hit games the week of September 20th. That week he was the NL Player of the Week & also won the NL Player of the Month Award.

In 1988 McReynolds proved to be a great base stealing threat as well. He set a record on the base paths with the most stolen bases in a season without getting caught, swiping 21 bases. He always had good speed, in his years with the Mets he stole 59 bases and only got caught 10 times.

On the season 1988 season, McReynolds was in the top five in the National League in both HRs (27) and RBIs (99), while coming in third place to Kirk Gibson & Daryl Strawberry in the National League MVP voting. That year the Award went to the Dodgers Kirk Gibson, mostly because any writers who voted for a Met voted for either Straw or McReynolds & anyone voting for a Dodger voted solely for Gibson.

He batted .288, with 30 doubles with a .336 on base %. He was also among the league leaders in slugging percentage as well at .496%. In the outfield he helped the Mets win the Eastern title leading all left fielder with 17 outfield assists, posting a .985 fielding %.

Post Season: In the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers McReynolds went hitless in the first two games. The Mets entered the 9th inning of Game #1 down 2-0 facing Orel Hershiser looking for a shutout. Greg Jeffries singled & with one out Daryl Strawberry doubled, scoring the Mets first run as Hershiser was removed for Jay Howell.

McReynolds walked & with two outs Gary Carter doubled scoring Strawberry & McReynolds coming around third base full speed. The throw arrived at home the same time McReynolds did, he raised his shoulder & shoved into Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia. He was safe with the go ahead run, beating Scioscia at his own game, usually they best at blocking the plate.

In Game #4 at Shea Stadium, he followed Daryl Strawberry's 4th inning HR off John Tudor with a solo shot of his own to deep left center field.

In the game he had two hits but the Mets went on to lose the game after blowing a lead going into the 9th inning. On this night Dwight Gooden served up his infamous HR to Mike Scioscia tying up the game. 

McReynolds had a huge Game #6 in Dodger Stadium driving in three of the Mets five runs, which tied the Series up at three games each. In the 1st inning his sac fly put the first run up on the board. In the 5th he hit a two run HR off former Met Tim Leary putting the Mets up 4-0. He had four hits on the day with a HR & three RBIs. In the NLCS he batted .250 with two HRs four RBIs, three walks & two stolen bases.

On Opening Day 1989 he drove in a run in the Mets Opening Day win against the St Louis Cardinals. In the final week of April he drove in eight runs, with RBIs in six straight games raising his average to .300. At the end of May he went on a hit streak hitting safely in 18 of twenty games.

On June 7th at Wrigley Field he hit a three run HR & drove in four runs leading Doc Gooden to his seventh win, in a 10-5 win over the Chicago Cubs. On August 1st he had four hits while driving in six runs with a HRs in the Mets 11-0 win over the St. Louis Cards at Busch Stadium.

The next day he broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th inning, with a single scoring Juan Samuel & Howard Johnson with the game winning hits. When the Cards came to Shea he hit HRs in both ends of a double header helping New York to sweep the twin bill.

In the month he drove in 25 runs, closing out the month on August 30th with a grand slam HR at Dodger Stadium. In September the Mets fell out of contention, finishing second to the Chicago Cubs. He had another four RBI day, coming in Philadelphia & he close out the year driving in runs in all three games of the final series at Pittsburgh.

On the year he hit .272 with 22 HRs with 25 doubles, 85 RBIs (second on the club to Howard Johnson & tenth in the NL) 15 stolen bases & a .326 on base %. In the left field he was second in the league with nine assists, making ten (5th in the NL) overall.

He began the 1990 season with a HR in the second game of the year, it came at Shea in a 3-0 win over the Pirates. In the final week of April he drove in runs in six of eight Mets games.

In early May he hit HRs in three straight games against the Houston Astros, including both ends of a double header sweep. That week he also drove in runs in five straight games. On May 21st he hit a grand slam HR at Dodger Stadium off Mike Morgan in a 12-3 Dwight Gooden win.

On June 5th his 8th inning HR tied the game up against the Montreal Expos, setting the stage for an extra inning walk off HR from Tom O'Malley. A week later during a Wrigley Field slug fest McReynolds hit a pair of HRs & drove in four runs in the 1908 Mets win.

He drove in a run in all four games of the series. On August 19th in San Francisco he hit a pair of HRs off the Giants Mike Lacoss, driving in six runs in the Mets 10-9 win. As the road trip in California continued, he hit a pair of HRs in a tight 3-2 win at Dodgers Stadium. He began September with four HRs in the first ten games and had another two HR game on September 24th.

In 1990 he led all outfielders in assists with 14 as well as fielding % (.988%).

At the plate he hit .269 with 24 HRs 23 doubles 82 RBIs & 77 walks which gave him his best on base % in his time in New York (.353%).


The Mets won 91 games that year but fell to second place again, four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

By 1991 he declined to a .259 batting average, although he still hit 16 HRs with 32 doubles 74 RBIs & a .322 on base % as the team fell out of contention, dropping to fifth place.

By then the fans were getting on him and the media critiqued him as well. It seems people were always on McReynolds in New York, since he was a quiet guy who quietly went about his business. He had a slow demeanor which when he wasn't producing had people saying he was lazy or too lax.

His worst moment came during an interview when asked how he felt before Game #7 of the 1988 NLCS, and his reply was either way I'll be duck hunting tomorrow.

In the 1991 off season he was involved in a blockbuster deal, getting traded to Kansas City along with Greg Jeffries & Keith Miller for Bret Saberhagen & Bill Pecota.

He played two seasons in Kansas City but at age 31 he seemed to be winding down in his career as his skills were clearly fading. In two year in Kansas City he hit a best .247 the first season with 13 HRs & 49 RBIs. He did put up his career best on base % that year (.357) as he drew a career high 6 walks.

He was sent back to the New York Mets in his final season, when the Mets dumped troubled Vince Coleman off to Kansas City after his fire cracker throwing incident among other drama's.

McReynolds played six seasons in New York overall, in 787 games he batted .265 with 122 HRs 153 doubles & 456 RBIs.

On Opening Day 1994 he had two hits with an RBI for the Mets at Wrigley Field. On May 7th he drove in the only run of the game with aground rule double against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

On June 12th he hit a pair of HRs driving in four of the Mets five runs in a 5-4 win over the Expos. Knee problems & injuries ended his season in July after 51 games. The injuries would end his career as well at age 33. In his final 1994 season he hit .256 with 4 HRs 11 doubles & 21 RBIs.

In his 12 season MLB career McReynolds was a lifetime .256 hitter, with 1439 hits, 211 HRs, 284 doubles 35 triples a .328 on base % & 93 stolen bases in 1502 games. He also had 66 sac flies (165th all time).

In the outfield he played 1069 games in left (54th most all time) with 1469 games at all outfield positions. McReynolds made 100 outfield assists posting a .987 fielding percentage. His .985 fielding % in left field in 41st all time. In left field his .985 fielding % is 40th all time & his 67 assists in that position is #56 all time.

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