The 1988 Project Day 25 – Ray Knight

1988 Fleer Update

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.

1988 Score Rookie & Traded

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 Topps Traded

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.

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