Former New York Mets third baseman Robin Ventura turned 50 today, and the one thing that he clearly deserves, a hall of fame induction, still hasn’t been given to him. Let’s take at his legendary three years in Queens.
New York signed Ventura to a four-year, $32M deal on December 1st, 1998. In order to get Ventura, New York had to outbid Baltimore and spend the big bucks. The price was deemed fair though as Ventura’s next three seasons were phenomenal.
In 1999, Ventura won his sixth Gold Glove over a nine-year span. While the then 31-year-old was a monster on defense in ’99, he was even better on offense. Finishing sixth in MVP voting that season, Ventura finished with a strong .301 average, 88 runs, 32 home runs, and 120 RBI.
Ventura may not have had a strong playoffs by any means in 1999, but his famous “grand slam single” to force a game six of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves is considered by many as the greatest moment in Mets history, other than winning championships of course.
Ventura came back to life in 2000 and 2001 and hit under .240 in back-to-back seasons. Despite that, Ventura still hit over 20 homers, 60 runs, and 60 RBI in both seasons.
Sure, Ventura couldn’t lead the Mets to a championship in ’99 or’00, but he brought back a winning mentality to New York. Prior to their back-to-back deep playoff runs, the Met’s hadn’t made the playoffs in 11-straight years.
Ventura retired with a career average of .267, 1885 hits, 1006 runs, 294 homers, 1182 RBIs, six Gold Glove awards, and two All-Star game appearances. Considered by most as top-5 defensive third basemen all time, the fact that Ventura isn’t in the hall of fame by now is beyond me.