BY MICHAEL GANCI
When I think of consistent hitters, one of the first players that comes into my mind from a Mets perspective is former first basemen John Olerud. Famous for wearing a helmet in the field for medical reasons, he was one of the most patient hitters that we have seen in recent memory for this club.
His on-base percentage clearly reflects that he was a valuable No. 3 hitter.
Olerud was with the Mets for three seasons from 1997-99. In 1998, Olerud had an MVP-caliber season, batting a resounding .354 with 22 homers and 93 RBI. The most eye-popping stat of them all for Olerud was had a .447 on base percentage that year.
He was getting on base almost every time up, and that boded well for the big boy hitting behind him.
Believe it or not, Olerud’s .354 batting average was not the best one he has put up in the major leagues. In 1993 with Toronto, Olerud batted .363 with 24 homers and 107 RBI. He also had 200 hits, 54 of which were doubles. That is an MVP-caliber season if I have ever seen one.
Olerud led by example. His patience was truly something to admire. He didn’t strike out much, and he was a great defensive player. He was one of the more underrated players that played in that era.
The one drawback that came with Olerud was his speed, or lack thereof. He ran about as slow as Mo Vaughn, and it took him about a half hour to get from home to first. Well...not really. But, you get my point.
Overall, Olerud was an excellent player, and I was upset to see him go after 1999 to Seattle. He was valuable, and he was a big reason why Mike Piazza drove in so many runs.