One of the most memorable aspects of a mostly forgettable first baseman named Tim Harkness was a Polo Grounds-produced banner in the early days of the Mets. ‘’Hit one into the darkness, Harkness,’’ the bedsheet proclaimed. But prodigious homers, let alone average production, were rarely the norm for the player who was originally was drafted by the Phillies and spent two years with the Dodgers before coming to the Mets in 1963. That year Harkness, who wasn’t particularly adept in the field with 14 errors, turned in arguably the worst offensive season by a platoon or regular Mets first baseman in their 50-plus year history. In 123 games (375 at-bats), Harkness hit 10 homers and drove in 41 runs. Not horrific. But he only scored 35 runs, hit an anemic .211 and provided a .290 on-base percentage. That’s feeble. These numbers are worth examining in light of Ike Davis’ atrocious start to the 2013 campaign, underlined by his recent 1-for-38 string with runners in scoring position, an almost inconceivable string of ineptitude. That the Mets should have sent Davis down to Triple-A long ago, goes without saying. In not finding a better option, general manager Sandy Alderson has short-circuited any hope the franchise may have had for relevance this season and barring a second-half uprising of great surprise, guaranteed that the club will see another decrease in attendance, what has become the norm since the club moved to Citi Field. But that’s another issue for another day. Davis’ woes are not a sign of patience on the part of the organization, but rather one of delusion that any fanbase would pay to see them, such is their historical nature in a negative way. Through 44 games, Davis had four homers and nine RBIs in 143 at-bats. That’s one fewer RBI than weak-hitting shortstop Ruben Tejada, who would be best utilized as a utility infielder, not a starting player. Davis had 49 strikeouts (compared to only 16 walks) and his .143 batting average was the worst of any regular player in the National League (with his .230 on-base percentage not the worst, but not far from it either). Outside of Keith Hernandez and John Olerud, first base hasn’t exactly been a strength in the half-century plus history of the Mets. But there are a few other noteworthy flounderers one could put in 2013 Davis’ class. Marv Throneberry in 1962? Not great, but his 16 homers, 49 RBIs, .244 average and .306 OBP won’t make this list. Instead we turn to another 1962 product, Ed Kranepool, who had several strong seasons in Flushing, but two awful ones of note. In 1968, Kranepool had three homers and 20 RBIs in 373 at-bats. Even in the Year of the Pitcher that’s putrid. But Kranepool’s real low points of that season were in scoring only 29 runs and producing an anemic .295 slugging percentage. This would explain why the club went out and got Donn Clendenon in a trade the following June.
Davis among Mets' worst first basemen ever in franchise history
Newark Star-Ledger | May 26