The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Ten Facts About Lenny Dykstra

You may have heard that former Mets / Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra, already serving jail-time

Grand Theft Auto (film)

Grand Theft Auto (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for Grand Theft Auto, has now had an additional six months added to his prison sentence for bankruptcy fraud, hiding baseball gloves and other souvenirs from his playing days that were supposed to be part of his bankruptcy settlement.

Apparently out to convince the public that he isn’t a one-trick pony, he has also been accused of indecent exposure through the use of Craigslist ads.

Alas, there was a time, not that long ago, when Lenny Dykstra was merely a well-paid baseball player.  Dykstra played in the Majors from 1985-96.  You may recall him as being a fine ballplayer.  That’s how I choose to remember him.

Here are ten facts about Lenny Dykstra, the baseball player:

1)  He was born Leonard Kyle Dykstra in Santa Ana, CA in 1963, and raised in Garden Grove, CA.

2)  He was drafted by the Mets in the 13th round of the amateur draft in 1981.  He was just 18-years old.

3)  Listed as 5’10” and 160 pounds, he was a small but tough (as Nails, hence his nickname) package of speed and surprising power.

4)  In his MLB debut on May 3, 1985, leading off for the Mets, Lenny went 2-5, scored twice, drove in two runs, stole a base, and hit a home run to straightaway center-field off of Reds pitcher Mario Soto.  It would be the only home run Dykstra would hit in 273 plate appearances in ’85, but he would go on to hit 80 more in the regular season in his career.

5)  In the Mets World Championship season of 1986, Dykstra, in his first full season at age 23, finished among the top 20 in N.L. MVP voting.  He was successful in 31 of 38 steal attempts, drew more walks than strikeouts, finished in the top ten in the N.L. in WAR, and posted an OPS+ of 129.

6)  In the ’86 World Series against the Red Sox, after the Mets had lost the first two games of the Series at Shea Stadium, Dykstra led off Game Three at Fenway Park by launching a lead-off home run down the right-field line.  It was one of four hits Dykstra would tally that evening.  The Mets would go on to win the game, 7-1.

7)  In 32 career post-season games for the Mets and the Phillies, Dykstra posted a triple slash line of .321 / .433 /.661, with an astonishing ten homers in just 112 at bats.  He also scored 27 runs, and was a perfect 5-5 in stolen base attempts.

Juan Samuel

Juan Samuel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8)  Dykstra was traded for Juan Samuel in the middle of the 1989 season.  In the one half-season that Samuel played for the Mets, he posted a triple slash line of .228 / .299 / .300.  His OPS+ was 76.  Dykstra would go on to lead the N.L. in hits twice, in runs scored once, in walks once, and in on-base percentage once with the Phils.  In his first four years with the Phils, he would post OPS+ scores of 138, 132, 122 and 144.

9)  In just 1,278 MLB games, Dykstra produced a career WAR of 41.0, higher than former star players Gil Hodges, Don Mattingly, Al Oliver, Carlos Delgado, Curt Flood, Tony Oliva and teammate Darryl Strawberry.

10)  Dykstra retired as a player at age 33 in 1996 after just 40 games.  His no-holds barred style of play resulted in injuries that certainly shortened his impressive career.  Still a young man, Dykstra, lured by the temptation of easy money, fell prey to many of the same influences that have destroyed the lives and reputations of so many others along the way.

Here’s to hoping he is able to salvage the rest of his life someday.  Meanwhile, I prefer to recall Dykstra as the player he was, not the man he was to become.

After I post this, I’ll be taking a hiatus from blogging for a few weeks until after the New Year.  Might be doing some traveling, for a change.  Hope you all have a great Christmas, or whatever it is you celebrate.  Stay safe, and I’ll see you when I get back.



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18 thoughts on “Ten Facts About Lenny Dykstra

  1. Nicely done, William. I like your site, clean and smart. I hadn’t seen Lenny’s post-season stats broken out like that before, he really did rise to the moment. Looks like I might have 2-3 years on you — I’m 52 — and for me, the Dykstra trade was so monumentally misguided. A terrible trade. They should have just played Lenny everyday in CF, but he was a victim of the Wilpons house-cleaning efforts. If you had a personality, they didn’t want you around. Samuel — who was a disaster in CF, predictably — hit a big HR in one of his first games with the Mets, and I was in the stands. The NY Post headline the next morning was, “JUAN-derful!” Oy.

    • Hello James (Jim?)
      Thanks so much for the kind words. I, too, have enjoyed your site which I recently came across. It’s definitely a fun read for us Mets fans.
      You are so right regarding the Wilpons trading away anyone deemed too brash or in any way controversial. Getting rid of Dykstra really was a huge mistake. I’m guessing that, like me, you started following the Mets sometime in the early 1970’s. Back in the Don Hahn days.
      Thanks for stopping over for a visit, and for the comment.

  2. Reblogged this on The Real McTeag and commented:
    this guy writes with PhD knowledge of baseball and has a great writing style

  3. i too prefer players as players rather than whatever they do outside the diamond.
    didn’t dykstra flinch his elbow? a little like joe morgan.
    i’m gonna find a jukebox this christmas and play a tune.

  4. Sometimes, when an athlete you admire goes on to lead a bad life, sometimes all you can do is concentrate on what he did on the field or the court. Of course, if the crime is unforgivably heinous (ala OJ Simpson), it’s practically impossible to do that.

    Enjoy your time away; we’ll miss you!

  5. Well, it’s been nice knowing you. With that Mayan Apocalypse hitting before xmas, you won’t be back. Have a nice trip and in case the Mayans were wrong, will look forward to your new posts. 🙂
    Enjoy you break.

  6. Mike Cornelius on said:

    An excellent and thoughtful post. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours! Enjoy your travels.


  7. Northern Narratives on said:

    Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!

  8. Enjoy your holidays, good sir. I’ll be chompin’ at the bit waiting for your next post.

  9. Allan G. Smorra on said:

    Be safe and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

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