Met Outfielder Joe Christopher is from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands which, according to the airlines, is only a few hours from New York. But Joe evidently never read the ads, because it took him nine years to make the trip. He spent time in places like Lincoln, Neb. and Salt Lake City, always hitting around .300. Christopher figured he could hit .300 in the majors too, but he did not—not with the Pirates nor later with the Mets. So it was back to the minors, Syracuse and Buffalo this time, where he hit about .300 again and still got no-where. Then last summer in Buffalo, Billy Herman changed Christopher's backswing and taught him to swing at the ball instead of the pitcher's motion. Joe, who has the widest grin and the biggest dimples in baseball, found plenty to smile about. With his new swing, he played the second half of the season and finished with a .288 average and 19 homers. Kept on the Mets' roster this spring because he had no more options left, Christopher received the break he needed when injuries opened a spot in the New York outfield. He moved into the starting lineup in May and has refused to budge. Hitting around .300 with 10 home runs since then, Christopher last week led the Mets on a five-game winning streak with a .440 average and six RBIs. It moved him up to fifth in the batting race with .314. Joe simply smiled and said, "That's what I've been saying: I knew I could do it all along."