I was surprised to see that Ray Knight was not as good a player as advertised. I had always seen him as the kind of guy who floated around league average year in and year out, so imagine how surprised I was when I saw he only OPS+ed over 100 5 times in a 13-year career. He had a couple of decent seasons WAR-wise, showing 3.6 in 1979 despite a cast-iron glove and a 3.5 in 1983 when his fielding had improved. He saw a pretty steady decline after that until the miracle 1986 Mets season, when I guess my impression of him was formed.
1987 was Ray’s first and only season with the Orioles, and it was a rough one. His batting average dipped from .298 to .256, and he saw an almost 100-point OPS drop, from .775 to .683. Those problems were likely masked by a boost in his home runs, from 11 to 14 while his doubles remained consistent. A lot of people were critical of the Mets for letting their World Series MVP go, but based on the numbers, I’d say they made the right call. In the 87/88 offseason, the Orioles traded him to the Tigers for Mike Thurmond.
1988 would be Ray’s final season. He fell from 14 to 3 homers, his BA fell further to .217, and his OPS fell to .572. Between 1986 and 1988, his OPS+ went from 115 to 83 to 63. Ouch. And the 88 Tigers were a pretty decent team, too, finishing second in the AL East. Dave Bergman would end up taking Knight’s place at first in 1988.
I was always kind of lukewarm on Knight, so picking a favorite card here is tough. All things considered, though, I’d have to go with the Topps card. I like the smile, and the color scheme oddly works, even though there’s no green or orange in the shot.
- Day 1- Mark Grace (Cubs)
- Day 2- Al Leiter (Yankees)
- Day 3- Chris Sabo (Reds)
- Day 4- Walt Weiss (Athletics)
- Day 5- Baseballs’ Best Catch-Up
- Day 6- Craig Biggio (Astros)
- Day 7-Roberto Alomar (Padres)
- Day 8-Kirk Gibson (Dodgers)
- Day 9-Jay Buhner (Yankees/Mariners)
- Day 10-Jose Rijo (Reds)
- Day 11-Brady Anderson & Mike Boddicker (Red Sox/Orioles)
- Day 12-Pete Smith & Kevin Coffman (Braves)
- Day 13-David Wells (Blue Jays)
- Day 14-Shawn Abner (Padres)
- Day 15 – Tom Brunansky (Cardinals)
- Day 16 – Bryan Harvey (Angels)
- Day 17 – Joey Meyer (Brewers)
- Day 18 – John Dopson (Expos)
- Day 19 – Brett Butler (Giants)
- Day 20 – Randy Milligan and Tommy Gregg (Pirates)
- Day 21 – Mackey Sasser (Mets)
- Day 22 – Cecil Espy (Rangers)
- Day 23 – Willie Upshaw (Indians)
- Day 24 – Ricky Jordan (Phillies)
- Day 25 – Ray Knight (Tigers)