The 2016 season for the New York Mets was another injury-plagued one. It included them losing their everyday first baseman, Lucas Duda, to a stress fracture in his back from the middle of May through the middle of September. As the Mets were scrambling for major league ready options, the landed on the veteran James Loney.
— 🍎 THE BIG APPLE 🍎 (@BigAppleOnline) January 21, 2017
Loney came to the Mets a little over a week after Duda headed to the injured list. This was a good move for the Mets because their only other option was Wilmer Flores, who also spent time playing third base as well. Loney was not only a proven option but a solid fielder both mentally and physically.
Strong Start, Consistent Player
The knock on Loney had always been his lack of power at a position that demands it. He never hit more than 15 home runs in a season and only had three seasons where he slugged over .400. Loney was also known for his ability to put the ball in play and never had a season where he struck out over 100 times.
He played his role in the way the Mets had hoped. Loney hit .282/.337/.441 with six home runs and 21 RBIs over his first two months with the Mets. His production helped keep the Mets afloat as they were 54-50 heading into the final two months of the season.
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) June 25, 2016
His production diminished as the season went on, only hitting .245/.269/.342 over the last two months of the season. Loney’s presence in the clubhouse and on the field earned him the right to remain the everyday first baseman, even when Duda returned from injury. He also started the wild card game at first base and drew one of the few baserunners against Madison Bumgarner.
Life After the Mets
Loney’s lasting memory is the home run against the Phillies, which helped seal the deal for the Mets wild card chase. His bat was as modest as can be and was the last image the team had before they clinched. Loney spent the following season in multiple minor league organizations before finishing the year in Korea.
After taking 2018 off, he played in the Atlantic League with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2019. Loney now works for the Arizona Diamondbacks in their baseball operations department and will also work as a scout and in player development.