Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Hey, Super Joe!

Posted by JD on March 18, 2010

There are a ton of Joe McEwing fans out there. We all know at least one. The super-utilityman who embodied grit and hustle and any other intangible you can think of endeared himself to many a Mets fan during his time in the blue and orange. Well, today is a big day for all of you Super Joe fans: on this date ten long years ago, the Mets acquired the mini-mite in return for Jesse Orosco (who had been re-acquired only months before). And so it came to be that Super Joe McEwing entered our lives, and all was well.

One caveat: don’t bother bringing up how he “owned” Randy Johnson. It turns out that it’s a myth that was largely created by one game. Here’s my post from last June addressing the McEwing/Johnson dynamic:

Randy Johnson just became the most recent member of the 300 win club, a fraternity that all but guarantees he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Ken Davidoff and Joe Posnanski (with Bill James) have much more detailed takes on Johnson, both well worth reading. Posnanski is of the school of thought that we’ll see other 300 game winners (though it may be awhile). I tend to agree. While we, as baseball fans, should take time to appreciate the greatness of Johnson’s career, we shouldn’t overdramatize it to the point that we call him “The Last 300 Game Winner”. Though that does conjure images in my mind of an aging Randy Johnson popping open a bottle of champagne every time a pitcher retires close, but just shy, of 300 wins.

But I digress. Watching Randy Johnson wrap up his 300th victory yesterday made me reminisce about “Super” Joe McEwing, the utility man who played for the Mets from 2000-04. McEwing had some memorable at-bats against Johnson, to the point that it was said that he “owned” him. This was more than a little unusual because, at the time, Johnson was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league.  It isn’t often when a little-used utility player “owns” a multiple-Cy Young Award winner, so I decided to look at the match-up more closely.

All told, McEwing had 44 at-bats against Johnson which, interestingly enough, was the most he had against any pitcher. Somewhat surprisingly, his career line against Johnson was only .250/.244/.432 (BA/OBP/SLG), with one home run and four RBI. Digging deeper, however, revealed this interesting fact: in 2000, McEwing went 4-for-6 against Johnson, producing a .667/.571/1.667 line. Those four hits were three doubles and one home run, and he hit two of those doubles and the home run in one game (on 5/21/00). So, his reputation as a Johnson-killer primarily came from one single game.

Just goes to show how far popular perception can be from reality. McEwing was a fan (and personal) favorite so I don’t begrudge him anything. But the numbers show his reputation for “owning” Randy Johnson was in fact much ado about nothing.

And so it goes, even for Super Joe.

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2 Responses to “Hey, Super Joe!”

  1. Paul said

    Give Joe McEwing his due – he was able to match his career batting average and exceed his career slugging percentage against a future Hall-of-Fame pitcher. :) Sure, the Randy Johnson-killer reputation was built around one great game, but that’s not bad for a utility guy. :)

    • JD said

      I like the guy, really! Just couldn’t resist busting the bubble. And it wouldn’t shock me if he resurfaced as a manager one day soon. Apparently, Baseball America ranked him as the #1 managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League last year. At least, that’s what his Wikipedia page says…

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