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Keith Hernandez’s top Mets moments, No. 6: The MVP candidate

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World Sequence champion and beloved SNY analyst Keith Hernandez may have his No. 17 retired by the Mets on July 9, changing into simply the fourth participant, plus managers Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges, within the historical past of the franchise to be bestowed that honor. That is the fifth of a 10-part daily countdown of Hernandez’s best moments and accomplishments following his 1983 arrival in Flushing. 

No. 6: The MVP candidate 

Keith Hernandez’s change of coronary heart and determination to re-sign with the Mets within the offseason following his commerce to the perennial last-place membership in 1983 paid rapid dividends individually and collectively the next 12 months. 

Hernandez, the co-MVP within the Nationwide League in 1979 with the Cardinals, completed because the runner-up to Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg for the award in his first full season with the Mets, main a younger staff that includes back-to-back Rookie of the Yr winners Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden to a 90-72 file in his first full 12 months with the membership in 1984. 

Keith Hernandez
Keith Hernandez
Getty Photographs

“Sandberg gained it, however I’ve to consider I’d have gotten it had we gained the division,” Hernandez informed The Put up. “We went from 68 wins the 12 months earlier than to 90, and with all issues thought-about, I consider that was my greatest 12 months with the Mets.” 

Sandberg batted .314 with 19 homers, 84 RBIs and an OPS of .887 for the Cubs, who completed 96-65 to take the NL East by 6 ½ video games over the upstart Mets. 

Hernandez had tied Pittsburgh slugger Willie Stargell for MVP honors in 1979, main the league in hitting (.344), runs (116) and doubles (48) with a career-high 105 RBIs. They completed with the identical quantity of factors within the balloting, regardless that Stargell — with 32 dwelling runs and 82 RBIs for the eventual World Sequence champions — acquired 10 first-place votes, six greater than Hernandez. Third-place finisher Dave Winfield of the Padres additionally acquired 4 first-place votes. 

The Mets’ 22-game enchancment in ’84 below first-year supervisor Davey Johnson — with three rookie beginning pitchers in Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez — had an ideal deal to do with Hernandez’s presence and management. He batted .311 with a .409 on-base share, 15 homers and a team-best 94 RBIs, whereas profitable his seventh of 11 consecutive Gold Glove awards at first base. 

Hernandez additionally completed within the prime 10 in MVP voting with the Mets in 1985 (eighth) and 1986 (fourth), albeit behind teammates Gooden (fourth) and Gary Carter (sixth) in ’85 and behind Carter (third) throughout the staff’s most up-to-date World Sequence championship marketing campaign.