If I asked you to name the worst-hitting season by a Mets player with at least 400 PA, you would probably name someone like Rey Ordonez or Doug Flynn or Bud Harrelson. Those are all good guesses but not the right answer. An inspired selection would be Rafael Santana, who posted an OPS+ of 52 for the 1986 champions. But that was only good for second place.
The distinction for the worst-hitting season in team history belongs to Roy McMillan in 1964, who posted a .211/.246/.251 line in 405 PA after coming over in an early-season trade with the Milwaukee Braves for Jay Hook and Adrian Garrett. And while the trade spared the Mets from ever fielding a lineup with both Garrett brothers, it didn’t do much for the team’s offensive firepower.
Of course 1964 was part of the deadball 60s, where offense was at its lowest levels since Babe Ruth. But OPS+ adjusts for league and park and McMillan’s output translates into a 42 OPS+, which comfortably rests below Santana’s 52 OPS+.
Now, McMillan was a fine player before he landed on the early Mets. He was a two-time All-Star, he won three Gold Glove Awards (he would have won more but the award did not begin until he had been in the league for five full years) and drew MVP votes in five different seasons, including 1961 when he had a 64 OPS+. It’s important to remember that in this era not much was expected offensively out of shortstops. Still, you had to be pretty impressive in every other facet of the game to convince someone you deserved an MVP vote when you posted a .598 OPS.
McMillan’s regular 1964 Topps card had him on the Braves, but the Topps Giants test card set was issued later and featured the bespectacled shortstop on the Mets. The 60-card set is packed with stars and the set’s checklist can generally be considered a register of the game’s top players. McMillan’s reputation helped him represent the Mets in this set, although it’s not like there was a lot to choose from back in 1964. Galen Cisco also was featured in this set and no one was throwing him any MVP votes.
The next season McMillan played the entire season with the Mets and to prove that his 42 OPS+ was no fluke, he posted a 64 OPS+ in 1965, which is the 11th-worst mark in team history. He was on pace to post another all-time lousy hitting season in 1966, but shoulder injuries limited McMillan to 76 games and 246 PA.
He tried to come back for 1967, even at age 37 and possessing what Mets trainer Peter LaMotte called “the ankles of a 60-year old man.” But he re-injured his shoulder during Spring Training and his career was over.
McMillan remained in baseball and later served as a coach for the team. He was the interim manager in 1975, taking over for the fired Yogi Berra. He was a baseball lifer and a fine player in his prime. It’s just that by the time he joined the Mets that prime had long since past.
The Topps Giants are a great way to get stars of the 1960s like Aaron, Clemente, Mays and Koufax at a fraction of their regular cost. A 1964 Topps Giants NM/MT Mantle can be purchased for $75 and picked up at an auction cheaper than that. Meanwhile an auction of Mantle’s regular issue 1964 Topps card, in just VG condition, starts at $150.