Remembering Mets History: (1991) Howard Johnson Leads the NL in HRs & RBIs

The 1990 New York Mets had finished in second place winning over ninety games (91-71) once again. 

It was the second straight year & the fifth time in the last seven seasons that the Mets finished in second place. This was a time when there was no wild card. Those second-place finishes cost Manager Davey Johnson his job. In 1990 he was replaced by long time Mets fan favorite Bud Harrelson. 

Harrelson would fare much worse as the 1991 club fell to 77-84 fifth place finish, the teams worst placing since 1983. Harrelson would be replaced by Mike Cubbage at the end of this season as well.

These Mets were different than the power hitting team of the mid to late eighties. Howard Johnson was the sole slugger left, as Kevin McReynolds on the down side of his career would hit 16 HRs & Hubbie Brooks, doing his second time around as a Met also hit 16 HRs. 

These three hitters would be the only Mets to hit double figures in HRs. Darryl Strawberry had left New York for Los Angeles & was the only the second Mets player who had ever led the league in HRs. Dave Kingman did it first with 37 HRs in 1982.

In 1991 Howard Johnson would be one of the few bright spots on the New York Mets. 

April: In the sixth game of the season, the last on a 4-2 Mets home stand, Hojo hit his first HR of the year. The next day, Hojo helped David Cone to his first win of the year, as he first had a two-run single later followed by a two run HR in the 9th inning. He would close out April with four HRs batting just .211.

May: Johnson started out with a May 4th walk off HR against Mike Lacoss & the San Francisco Giants. Two days later, in Darryl Strawberry's debut at Shea as a Dodger, Hojo homered again helping the Mets in a close 6-5 win. Strawberry also homered in his Shea return. 

Hojo would then homer in back to back games in San Francisco as he totaled four HRs with 10 RBIs in the first two weeks of May. He would belt three more HRs that month, including a May 27th, 8th inning HR at Wrigley Field which was the game winner in a 2-1 contest.

June 11th: On June 11th, he hit another game winner, this one in the top of the 11th inning off Mike Capel in Houston beating the Astros 4-3. Hojo would hit HRs in back-to-back games on a road trip to Cincinnati, he would hit six HRs in June.

July: As July began, he started out the month with back-to-back HR games in Montreal, both Mets wins. On July 3rd he helped lead the Mets to a 4-0 shut out win, it was the last win Ron Darling would record as a Mets pitcher. 

Hojo  would enter the All Star break with 19 HRs & 63 RBIs, making his second All Star team. He went 0-2 in the game playing from the 6th inning on.

August: As the season rolled on, the Mets losses mounted & most of Johnson's HRs in August came during Mets losses. On August 31st he had a big day in Cincinnati, where he hit two HRs driving in three runs in the Mets 8-7 win.

September: This would be Hojo's biggest month of the year as he went on to win the NL Player of the Month Award. Unfortunately, the Mets were not in any pennant race, he hit ten HRs drove in 31 runs, passing the 100 RBI mark for the second time in his career. 

He closed out the Cincinnati road trip with another HR & three RBIs on September 1st. On September 4th, he had just his second multi HR game of the year, getting him to pass the 30 HR mark on the season as well. It was his third 30 plus HR season.


Hojo hit another the next day & another the next week. On September 13th he homered driving in two runs leading the Mets to a 4-2 win. He would also lead the Mets to a 3-2 win against Montreal four days later hitting a two run HR.

On October 1st, he stole his 30th base of the season, joining the 30 30 club for the third time in his career. He is just one of five players ever to accomplish that feat.

Johnson ended the year leading the league in HRs (37) RBIs (117) extra base hits (76) & sac flies (15). He was second in slugging % (.535), runs scored (108), at bats per HRs (14.8).

Back issues would haunt Howard Johnson & he would never have another season as he did in 1991. 

The next year he would play in 100 games hitting just seven HRs. The next year he hit seven more HRs but played in just 72 games. That year he was let go to free agency going to the Colorado Rockies & then the Chicago Cubs in 1995. He then retired at age 34 with 228 career HRs. 

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