Best Mets Of All Time: No. 13 Edgardo Alfonzo
As we wind our way through the list of the best Mets of all-time, there are going to be some choices which are beyond obvious. The first one which really came along was David Wright with number 5. The second one which has come along is Edgardo Alfonzo.
In many ways, Alfonzo was the at the forefront of the Mets turn-around from the disaster that was The Worst Team Money Could Buy to the first ever Mets team to make back-to-back postseason appearances. In 1997, Alfonzo, then a third baseman, had a breakout year in his third season in the majors.
That year, Alfonzo led the Mets with a 6.2 WAR as the team shocked baseball winning 88 games. This marked a period where he emerged as one of the best players in the game surpassing 6.0 WAR in three out of four seasons. Over that time span, he would be the top player on the Mets (by WAR) twice.
While Alfonzo broke out in 1997, people did not really take notice of him until 1999. In that season, he was part of the best infield in Major League history. More than that, he emerged as the best second baseman in the National League, even if he would not make the All-Star team. During that season, he would become the first ever Mets player to go 6-for-6 in a game:
While overlooked for the All-Star team that year, no one would overlook him when it came to the big moments. After collapsing to end the 1998 season and just barely missing the Wild Card, Alfonzo was not going to let it happen again hitting .320/.419/.600 over the final six games to help force the Wild Card play-in game against the Cincinnati Reds. In that game, he’d immediately put the Mets on top:
Alfonzo wasn’t done. In what is perhaps the greatest two game stretch for any Mets player in team history, Alfonzo would follow homering in the Wild Card Play-In Game by homering in his first ever postseason at-bat. His homer off of Randy Johnson was the first sign the Mets were ready to shock the heavily favored Diamondbacks. Later, in that game, with the score tied 4-4, he would hit a game winning grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard:
After the NLCS heartbreak, the Mets were determined to win the pennant the following year, and Alfonzo would lead them there. That 2000 season was arguably the best any Mets second baseman has ever had or will ever have.
In that season, he would make his first All-Star team, and he would post the highest OBP of any Met not named John Olerud. His OPS makes him the only middle infielder in the Mets single-season top 10. This time, the Mets would easily grab the Wild Card, and once again, Alfonzo would be great in the postseason.
After hitting a much needed insurance home run in Game 2, a game the Mets won in extras, it was the Mets turn to exact revenge in Game 3. The Mets were down 2-1 facing Robb Nen, who had not blown a save since the All-Star Break. With two outs in the eighth, Alfonzo hit a game tying double scoring Lenny Harris from second. The Mets would eventually win that game on a Benny Agbayani walk-off, and the series the following day on Bobby Jones‘ one-hitter.
Alfonzo was simply great in the NLCS hitting .444/.565/.611 with a double, triple, and four RBI. In addition to Mike Piazza, Alfonzo was one of the Mets who could have staked a claim as the MVP of that series. In fact, it was his RBI single in the first inning of Game 5 which would prove to be the pennant winning RBI.
Like most of the Mets players, Alfonzo would struggle in that World Series. Of note, in the bottom of the seventh of Game 5, Alfonzo would become the last ever Mets player to record a World Series base hit at Shea Stadium.
Unfortunately, back problems would begin to sap Alfonzo of his power, but he would still remain a productive player for the Mets. While he had a down year in 2001, he was still one of the Mets players who wore the first responder’s caps in defiance of MLB. In the first game back in New York after the 9/11 attacks, Alfonzo drew the walk in front of Piazza before the emotional home run.
After his down season, and the 2001 Mets not returning to the postseason, the Mets made a blockbuster trade to acquire Roberto Alomar which pushed Alfonzo back to third; a move he did not want. Being the team first and professional player he was, Alfonzo responded with a very good year.
In fact, by WAR, he was the third best third baseman in all of baseball. Sadly, that was not enough for the Mets to be convinced to keep their star, and Alfonzo departed the Mets during free agency. He would return late in 2006 on a minor league deal, but the Mets never called him up to see if there was any magic left in that bat. As a Mets fan, you couldn’t help but wonder if he could have made a difference, especially in that Game 7.
After that 2006 season, his Major League career was over. At that time, he was the best infielder in Mets history, and he would be named as the best second baseman on the Mets 50th Anniversary team. He ranks fifth in batting average, runs scored, and hits in team history. H also has the seventh best OBP, the 10th most games played, the sixth most doubles, the 10th most homers, and the seventh most RBI and walks.
No matter how you break it down, he is the best second baseman in team history, and he is the best Venezuelan in Mets history. He is also the best Mets player to ever wear the number 13.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Alfonzo was the 13th best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 13.