You may find this very hard to believe, but there was a time when Eric Campbell was actually a fan favorite. It happened. Back in 2014, Campbell was called up to a Mets team that was going nowhere, and he hit. At one point in June, he was actually hitting .302/.360/.442. Fans loved the story of a local kid who was drafted in the eighth round who was making the most of an improbable call-up to the major leagues at the age of 27.
Campbell would have hot stretches here and there in the 2014 season, and he would finish the year with a respectable .263/.322/.358 batting line. That batting line coupled with the fact that Campbell was able to play every position in the infield and both corner outfield spots showed he had the chance to be a bench player in the major leagues.
Unfortunately for Campbell, it was all downhill from there. While very advanced stats would say his exit velocity suggested he should be a better hitter, Campbell’s numbers continuously dropped. He would go from being a fan favorite to being a player who Mets fans took as a symbol of everything that was wrong with the team. That reached its apex when Campbell was batting in the middle of the lineup with John Mayberry, Jr. on a 2015 Mets team that was letting the season slip away due to injuries, a putrid offense, and a front office not willing to pull the trigger on a deal to rescue the season. Somehow, someway, Campbell would be the player that fans would direct their ire.
Frankly, it wasn’t always fair. Campbell was a guy who did whatever was asked of him and more. He would actually try to make himself a capable catcher to make himself as viable an option as he possibly could to the Mets. You can say whatever you want about Campbell, but the fact is, he did everything he could possibly do to take advantage of every ounce of his ability to become the best baseball player he could possibly be.
And there would be some highlights. He would have his first hit, RBI, and home run. He would actually steal home in a game. He made some nice plays in the field, especially this season when David Wright went down. He also showed the ability to come through in the clutch as a pinch hitter:
Despite these highlights, Cambpell struggled in the majors hitting just .221/.312/.311 over the course of three abbreviated seasons. What was frustrating about that is he would go down to AAA, and he would rake. In AAA, Campbell was actually a .322/.429/.488 hitter. There is a term for a player like this. Eric Campbell is a AAAA player – dominates AAA but just can’t do it at the major league level.
And with that, Campbell is where he belongs. Campbell just signed a deal to join the Hashin Tigers of the Japanese Leagues. It is where he belongs as a players, and he should help his new team in their attempt to win their first Japanese Series Championship since 1985. No matter what happens this season, hopefully Campbell can carve out a nice career for himself in Japan like Tuffy Rhodes did. Judging from his time with the Mets, you know Campbell is going to do all he can to make that happen.
And I wish him well. He may not have been one of the greatest Mets, but he is a player that has always stuck out for doing all he could do to make it as a major leaguer. If you took a step back from his struggles, it was easy to admire the work ethic and his willingness to do whatever the team needed him to do. He deserved more love from fans. Hopefully, he finds that love and that success he was looking for in the Japanese Leagues.
Good Luck Eric Campbell.