Gregg Jefferies was a highly touted prospect coming up through the New York Mets farm system in the late 80's. He could (theoretically) play anywhere besides the battery, he hit for average and power, drew walks, and could steal bases-- theoretically the perfect leadoff man. Unfortunately, his potential rarely showed in his stats.
After a cup of coffee as a 19 year old in 1987 he received his first significant action the next year, and he took advantage of it, batting .321 and slugging nearly .600 in 109 at bats, hitting so well he moved Mets star Howard Johnson off of 3rd base for the playoffs.
Second base was his the next year, but Jefferies fell victim to the lofty expectations placed on him. Although he hit about league average, above average for a second baseman, he was absolutely awful defensively. He improved on defense the next two years with the Mets, but was still inadequate, and worse yet it appeared that his offense had stagnated.
After the 1991 season they shipped their 24 year old disappointment to the Kansas City Royals along with aging slugger Kevin McReynolds for the Royals' young but injury-prone ace pitcher, Bret Saberhagen. The Royals made a smart move, switching him to 3rd Base, where he was about average, full time, but his hitting declined, and he had his most inefficient stolen base ratio of his career to that point. Royals fans quickly grew tired of him, and he was shipped off to the cross-state rival St. Louis Cardinals for fellow failed prospect Felix Jose and utility infielder Craig Wilson (a different Craig Wilson from the one currently playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.)
Jefferies, as many players before and after him did, thrived in St. Louis, posting the numbers expected of him all along. Moved to first base, he hit .342 with 16 home runs and 46 stolen bases, all three numbers career highs. Injuries stole part of the 1993 season from him, but he still hit .325 and was an all-star both years.
Jefferies balked at the Cardinals' refusal to give him a no-trade clause, and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. This was not a good idea. Jefferies hadn't taken well to the abrasive New York media, and the Phillies fans soon made him into a goat. He moved to left field, where his awkward defense soon led Strat-o-Matic fans to shout "Jefferies, you're a 5!", which was the card game's absolute worst defensive stat, reserved for Jefferies and few others. His offense, though adequate, declined due to injuries over the next few years, and in 1998 the Phillies sent him to the Anaheim Angels for a player to be named later as the Angels geared up for an ultimately futile stretch run.
The Angels had no interest in resigning him, so he signed with the cellar-dwelling Detroit Tigers in the offseason. He was unable to stay healthy, and managed only 111 games as a utility player over his two year stay before retiring after the 2000 season.
Jefferies, like so many other New York Mets prospects, is remembered best today as an inside joke among baseball fans. Few would have guessed in 1987 that today it would be an insult to be labeled "The next Gregg Jefferies."