#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: John Olerud

Wait, wait, wait… so fan favorite John Olerud was actually originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 27th round of the 1986 June Amateur Draft out of Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington. However, the first baseman opted not to sign with the Orange & Blue and instead re-entered in 1989 in which he was drafted in the third round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Insanely enough, Olerud saw Major League action that very year as he made his debut on September 3rd and picked up a base hit in a pinch hit appearance. He ended that ’89 season with eight at-bats and picked up three hits at the young age of just twenty years old.

Olerud would officially find himself in a New York Mets uniform before the start of the 1997 season when he was traded away from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Robert Person. The deal would eventually work out tremendously for the Mets for the three short years Olerud suited up in Orange & Blue.

John Olerud played a lot, I mean, it was almost impossible to take him out of a game due to not only his incredible ability to hit the ball to all fields, but also his impeccable defensive capabilities over at first base. In his three years as a New York Met, Olerud played in 476 games, appearing in no less than 154 games.

In his first season as a Met, 1997, Olerud hit .294/.400/.489/.889 with an OPS+ of 135 (100 is League average). The slick fielding first baseman hit 34 doubles, one triple, and 22 home runs while scoring 90 times and driving in 102 RBI’s.

He would hit 22 home runs again in ’98 along with 36 doubles and drove in 93 runs while batting .354/.447/.551/.998 with a 163 OPS+ in 160 games and 557 at-bats. The 1999 season would end up being his third and final season in Flushing, Queens. Olerud would play in all 162 games, where he accrued 581 at-bats and hit .298/.427/.463/.890 with a 129 OPS+ with 39 doubles, 19 home runs while scoring 107 times and driving in 96 RBI’s.

In his three seasons with the New York Mets, John Olerud slashed .315/.425/.501/.926 with a 142 OPS+ in 1662 at-bats. His leadership in that clubhouse was second to none while being an extremely quiet type of person, he lead by example on the diamond.

After a career that consisted of 17 seasons, Olerud finished the game with 255 home runs, 2239 base hits in 7592 at-bats while batting .295/.398/.465/.863 with a career OPS+ of 129 and a 58.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

Below is a “full-on” scouting report of John Olerud that dates back to 1989, the year the first baseman was drafted by the Blue Jays.

“JOHN OLERUD—FIRST BASE—DESIGNATED HITTER

HITTING- This player has outstanding bat control. He has an excellent eye at the plate and will work a pitcher until he gets his pitch to hit. He hits to all fields and with power to all fields. He has a short quick stroke and virtually always makes contact. He will hit better against good pitchers because they will supply more power,they offer him more of a challenge, and they will be around the plate more often. He has excellent work habits and extreme powers of concentration. He appears to approach hitting as a science and it shows. He is confident and self assured of his ability. He makes hitting look as if it is easy in comparison to most players. ‘ He will hit with more power in professional baseball than at present in my opinion. He usually hits the ball in the sweet spot of the aluminum bat which will translate to driving the ball hard with the wood bat. He hits the ball where it is pitched and has good line drive power. When professional pitchers supply a little more mustard he will hit the ball farther. He surely has enough line drive power to drive the ball out of the ballpark and when he gets his pitch and lofts the ball he also has fly ball power. The best thing is that he does not swing to hit the long ball and sprays the ball all over the field. The long ball will come naturally. His approach in batting practice is firstly to spray the ball around and hit grounders and liners to all fields. He then will begin to loft the ball and hit it for distance. He appears to know what he is doing at all times with the bat in his hands. He will hit at the major league level. He has a chance to be an absolutely outstanding major league hitter.

FIELDING- He has good size at first base. He has very good soft hands and extremely quick reaction time. He made a great reaction on a shot (one hopper) to him while playing first in Hawaii. He also made two great reaction plays while pitching on ground shots to him and in addition caught a line shot cannon hit right back at him while on the mound in Fairbanks. 95% of guys do not get that ball. He has very soft hands and seldom drops a ball. He has sure hands and is a very good overall fielder. He throws well, throws very easily, and is very much on top of the game mentally afield. He will field well at the major league level. He has a chance to be a well above average major league fielding first baseman.

PITCHING- He is impressive here. His quiet competitive spirit shows and he gets the job done. He has a below average fastball but an above average change that acts like a screwball. His breaking stuff curve and slider is adequate and his knowiedge of pitching and know how is exceptional. It is difficult to say whether or not he can pitch at the major league level. However, I would not discount this possibility and would give him every chance to exhibit his pitching prowess at the professional level. He likes to pitch and would like to give it his best shot.

HEALTH AND DURABILITY- All doctor reports and medical reports appear to indicate complete recovery. Every aspect of any medical document that I have seen is positive with the possible exception of some type personality change taking place within the first four months after the operation. You can discount that one. John, along with LHP Jim Abbott, have the best personalities I have ever seen. He is a joy to be around and will be a great example for baseball to youngsters all over the world. His health appears to be excellent. Naturally, after the tedious travel and playing schedule his team has endured, anyone would be somewhat tired. He has done more than any other player in tenms of pitching, hitting, and the normal workouts and is just as fresh as any of them. The players also spent much time enjoying themselves on wakiki beach and snorkeling etc. which is bound to take something out of their freshness for baseball. However, after all of this plus the aforementioned travel schedule to Fairbanks, Alaska, John turned in an amazing performance in beating Fairbanks 3-2 and contributing to his cause with the bat against a very good lhp. He hit as well or better in Alaska than Hawaii which speaks very well of his durability. He is back and 100% healthy in my opinion. He feels that his strength is good and he feels good but feels he just misses balls and dips his shoulder a bit and just is not perfect mechanically yet as compared to how he hit in his sophomore year of college. This is most likely due to the layoff from the game this spring and is nothing to be concerned about. As a matter of fact, he appears to be getting better every day and is more than adequately prepared to hit right now at a very high level of professional baseball.

MAKEUP- Outstanding! John Olerud is a first class kid in every respect. In addition to be an outstanding ballplayer he is a leader on a team by example and a credit to himself and the game of baseball. He will be the type player that fellow team members will look up to and he will be an inspirational leader by example. He is not beyond listening and appears to welcome constructive criticism if it will help him be a better player.

AFTER HAVING SPENT 10 DAYS WITH JOHN OLERUD AND THE PALOUSE COUGARS, I HAVE cams: TO THE FOIWING CONCLUSIONS: 1—JOHN CAN HIT PERIOD. 2—JOHNS HEALTH AND STRENGTH AND DURABILITY ARE EXCELLENT 3—4—JOHN ONLY NEEDS PRO EXPERIENCE TO BE A GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER.

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