No. 252 Jim Fregosi (Number 21 Shortstop)

In 1964 and 1970 Jim Fregosi had seasons where everything clicked. He had well over 7 WAR each year.  He was always a good hitter, but those two years he hit better than normal. He was also a solid fielder at shortstop but shows up as even better according to Baseball Reference WAR.

In 1970 Fregosi was just 28 years old with what appeared to be a bright future ahead of him. He played 8 more seasons and never had more than 1 WAR in a season again. After 1973 he never played shortstop again.

In 1971 Fregosi faded in every aspect of his game, mainly due to injuries. He played 158 games in 1970 and 107 games in 1971. I think it was known in baseball he wasn’t going to be a starting shortstop any more.

Now the New York Mets had problems at third base. They decided that since Fergosi could no longer play short he could play third an easier position. They also must have figured that even though he was off with the bat in 1971, in 1970 he had a great year hitting. They probably didn’t expect greatness but to have him hit above average. So, they traded four players for Fregosi, including a young pitcher with control problems.

Well, it didn’t work out. One thing the Mets didn’t consider was Fregosi never played third in the majors. A good shortstop doesn’t necessarily mean a good third basemen. Some of the skills are different and the angle to the from the plate is different. Fregosi just wasn’t a good third baseman. He also wasn’t hitting that good. Unfortunately for Fregosi the young pitcher (as many of you know) with control problems was Nolan Ryan. This made the trade even worse for Mets fans. Imagine in 1973 the Mets have Seaver (3rd pitcher), Ryan (17th pitcher). Koosman (48th pitcher) and Matlack (129th pitcher) as their four starters.

Now Fregosi could still play, but he was kind of in “no man’s land”. He could hit well enough to play the defensive positions, but he could no longer play the first base positions. He was an adequate fielding first baseman, but he didn’t hit enough to play first.

After 1973 he never had 300 plate appearances. When he first came up and played a partial year he played at an all-star level and kept that up for 8 more seasons, receiving MVP votes each season. After 1970, just age 28, he never approached those levels again.


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