Friday, July 12, 2013

The Mets in All-Star Games Part 3: The 1980s

Mets' ace Dwight Gooden started the All-Star Game for the National League twice in his career.

Shale Briskin
MM Assistant Editor

The 1980s did not begin much better than the late 1970s for the Mets, but by the middle of the decade, the Mets would begin their best seven-year stretch in team history, which culminated in two division titles and a World Series championship in 1986. Along the way, the Mets of the 1980s featured quite a few All-Stars.
1980: Catcher John Stearns was the Mets' lone All-Star in 1980 and made his third appearance at the Midsummer Classic. Stearns batted .285 with no home runs and 45 RBI before suffering a season-ending finger injury in late July. He did not get a hit in his only All-Star Game at-bat.

1981: In 1981, right fielder Joel Youngblood was the Mets' only All-Star. In the strike-shortened season, Youngblood batted .350 in 143 at-bats with 4 home runs and 25 RBI. Youngblood's only at-bat at the All-Star Game was as a pinch-hitter and he did not get on base.

1982: Stearns made his fourth and final appearance at the 1982 All-Star Game. Once again, he was the only Met at the festivities. While batting .293 with 4 home runs and 28 RBI in 98 games, Stearns did not get an at-bat at the Midsummer Classic.

1983: In 1983, closer Jesse Orosco made the first of two consecutive appearances to the All-Star Game. He was the Mets' lone representative. Orosco had a 13-7 record as a closer, to go along with a 1.47 ERA and 17 saves. Orosco pitched 1/3 of an inning at the All-Star Game and got a strikeout.

1984: In 1984, the Mets were finally on the rise and had four All-Stars to show for it. One of them was their rookie ace Dwight Gooden, who won the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year Award by going 17-9, with a 2.60 ERA and a career high 276 strikeouts. Gooden pitched two innings in the All-Star Game and allowed just one hit, while striking out three.

Another first time All-Star was young right fielder Darryl Strawberry, who preceded Gooden as the 1983 NL Rookie of the Year. Strawberry batted .251 with 26 home runs, 97 RBI and 27 stolen bases. He also started in right field and had one hit in two at-bats, plus a stolen base at the All-Star Game.

Veteran first baseman Keith Hernandez also made his first trip to the All-Star Game as a Met. Hernandez batted .311 with 15 home runs, 94 RBI and a .409 OBP. Hernandez struck out in his only at-bat at the Midsummer Classic.

Rounding out the group was Orosco, who had one of his best seasons as a Met. Orosco went 10-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 31 saves. He did not pitch in the All-Star Game.

1985: The 1985 Mets had four All-Stars as well, with two having participated a year earlier.

Gooden had one of the best pitching seasons in not just Mets history, but also baseball history. He had an amazing 24-4 record, a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts. Gooden did not pitch in the All-Star Game that year.

Strawberry had another great season with a .277 average, 29 home runs, 79 RBI and 26 stolen bases. He had a hit, a walk and two runs scored in the All-Star Game.

New catcher Gary Carter gave the Mets the extra offensive boost they needed, with a .281 average, 32 home runs and 100 RBI. He did not participate in the All-Star Game though.

Pitcher Ron Darling also made the 1985 NL All-Star team. It would be the only trip to the Midsummer Classic in Darling's career. Darling went 16-6 with a 2.90 ERA and 167 strikeouts that year, but did not appear in the All-Star Game.

 Right fielder Darryl Strawberry started in five consecutive All-Star Games from 1984-1988.

1986: The eventual World Series champions set a then-franchise record with five All-Stars.

Gooden became the youngest pitcher to ever start the All-Star Game that year. Unfortunately, he struggled that day and gave up two runs and three hits in three innings pitched. For the year, Gooden was 17-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 200 strikeouts.

Strawberry started the All-Star Game in right field and had one hit in two at-bats. His season included a .259 average, 27 home runs, 93 RBI and 28 stolen bases.

Hernandez started the All-Star Game at first base, but was hitless in four at-bats. He batted .310 with 13 home runs and 83 RBI for the year.

Carter was the starting catcher at the All-Star Game, but he himself was hitless in three at-bats. Carter's season featured a .255 average, 24 home runs and 105 RBI.

The fifth All-Star was left-hander Sid Fernandez, who pitched one inning in the All-Star Game and allowed two walks, while striking out three. Fernandez was 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the season.

1987: The 1987 Mets featured four All-Stars in Strawberry, Hernandez, Carter and Fernandez. Both Carter and Strawberry started the game for the National League.

Strawberry had arguably the best season of his career in 1987. He batted .284 with a new Mets single season record of 39 home runs (which was later broken by Todd Hundley in 1996 and tied by Carlos Beltran in 2006), to go along with 104 RBI and 36 stolen bases. Strawberry was hitless in his two All-Star Game at-bats that year.

Hernandez batted .290 with 18 home runs and 89 RBI in what was essentially the last great season of his long career. He had one hit in three at-bats during the All-Star Game.

Carter batted just .235 in 1987, but had 20 home runs and 83 RBI as well. He had one walk in two plate appearances at the All-Star Game.

Fernandez went 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA that year and got the save in the Midsummer Classic with one and one strikeout in one inning pitched.

1988: In 1988, the Mets had four All-Stars once had. Three were familiar faces, but one was a newcomer.

Gooden went 18-9 with a 3.21 ERA and 175 strikeouts that year and started the All-Star Game for the second time in his career. He allowed a home run to Terry Steinbach, as well as two other hits and a walk in three innings pitched that day.

Strawberry once again started in right field at the Midsummer Classic and had one hit in four at-bats. For the season, Strawberry batted .269 with 39 home runs, 101 RBI and 29 stolen bases. Strawberry ended up finishing in second place in the 1988 National League MVP voting.

In his 11th and final trip to the All-Star Game, Carter started behind the plate and had one hit in three at-bats. He batted .242 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI that year.

The newcomer was right-handed pitcher David Cone, who had his best season as a Met by going 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA and 213 strikeouts. He finished third in the 1988 NL Cy Young Award voting. At the All-Star Game that year, Cone threw a scoreless inning with one strikeout.

1989: Closing out their most successful decade yet, the Mets had two All-Stars in 1989.

Darryl Strawberry batted .225 with 29 home runs and 77 RBI that year, but did not participate in the All-Star Game.

Third baseman Howard Johnson his first of two career trips to the Midsummer Classic in 1989. At that point, Johnson's 1989 season was his best. It included a career high .287 average, 36 home runs, 101 RBI and a career high 41 stolen bases. Johnson had one hit in three at-bats, plus a stolen base in the 1989 All-Star Game.

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we recap the Mets' All-Star Game performances of the 1990s.

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