Top 100 Mets # 86: Walt Terrell

Charles Walter Terrell would seem an odd choice to be named a top 100 member of any baseball team, given that he was a below average pitcher over his career. However, he played a role in the construction of a dominant team of the late 1980's, and he pitched some of his best baseball for the New York Mets. It is thus that Terrell is named the # 86th greatest Met of all time.

Terrell started his career without hype or promise; he was a 33rd round draft pick of the Texas Rangers. He would never play a single game for the Rangers. Terrell and Ron Darling were traded by the Rangers to the Mets for Lee Mazzilli on April 1, 1980.

Terrell has a career ERA of 4.22 where the park adjusted league average ERA of his teams over his career is 3.92. He played only five years in which his ERA was lower than the league average. Three of those years were his first three years, all with the Mets.

His first major league action saw him appear in three games, all starts, in 1982. He lost all three games despite an ERA of 3.43. The next two years saw him make 20 and 33 starts, and one relief appearance. He pitched 133.2 and 217 innings, all above average in ERA. In his last year as a Met, his ERA was deceptively low as he gave up 15 unearned runs. He was second in the league in hits allowed in that year.

































It is not his performance as a Met that distinguishes him in the annals of Met history so much as what he was worth to another team. After 1984, the Mets traded Terrell to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman Howard Johnson. Terrell, not having been a highly touted prospect, may have appeared a diamond in the rough to the Tigers after his apparent immediate success. Johnson had been a first round pick (the twelfth overall), but hadn't enjoyed much success in his early years. In 1984, he hit .248/.324/.394. Terrell would go on to have a solid career as an innings-eating fifth starter. Johnson, HoJo as he became known, would become one of the outstanding offensive players in Mets history.

Johnson played nine seasons as a Met, well above average in most with two that qualify as great. He finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting three times, placing as high as fifth. Over the course of his career he appeared among singe season leaders in walks, home runs, doubles, stolen bases, extra base hits, total bases, times on base, OPS, and OPS+.

Walt Terrell won his first major league game against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 20, 1983, after being called up from the minors. 1983 proved to be a year of ups and downs for Walt as the 1983 Mets ball club was mediocre to say the least.

Terrell had his single finest day as Met on August 6, 1983, when he hit two two-run homers at Wrigley Field against future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, who was in the latter stages of his big league career. Nevertheless, Terrell's blasts accounted for all of the scoring as he pitched (and hit) the Mets to a 4-1 decision over the Cubbies that day. Six days later,. on August12th, Terrell once again faced the Cubs and Jenkins, this time at Shea. For the second time in six days, he defeated Jenkins, this time blanking the Little Bears 2-0, on four hits, for his first big league shutout.

He posted his second major league zero, when he whitewashed the Expos 1-0, on October 2nd and thereby finished his season with a record of 8-8.

In 1984, with Dwight Gooden now on the staff, the Mets were very much improved. Terrell pitched decent ball throughout the season, completing his first full big league season with a record of 11-12. He began he season quite strongly, defeating the Astros 8-1 and the Braves 6-1, in his first two decisions. After a 6-2 win against the Philllies he was 3-1, but then proceeded to lose his next four decisions. He bounced back against the Pittsburgh Pirates, tossing an eight-hitter for his 3rd career shutout in a 3-0 win.

The Mets had a fine 1984, but they ultimately lost the NL East title to the Chicago Cubs. Terrell's final win as a Met came on September 29th, when he defeated the Montreal Expos 8-4 and Bryn Smith at Parc Olympique, to finish the campaign with the aforementioned 11-12 ledger.

Following the trade that netted the greatest third baseman in Mets club history, Terrell became a very hard working if not great pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. As a Met, his final line showed 19 wins against 23 losses, but the man for whom he was traded set virtually ever offensive record for a Mets third sacker. For this reason, we regard Terrell so highly and he is our #86 Greatest Met.

Darren Uscianowski & Steve Usinger

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