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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 54 T.J. Rivera

Baseball is a funny sport. You can have a player sitting there for years eligible for the Rule 5 draft with teams passing over him time and again. As that player sits in the minors, you now have 30 teams who have overlooked how much that player can contribute at the Major League level. Finally, when there are no other options left, that same player can push your team into the postseason.

While that may or may not seem farfetched, that is essentially the story of T.J. Rivera.

After the Mets won the pennant in 2015, the team didn’t take that next step forward as they intended. Part of the reason was the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy, and the Mets had replaced him with Neil Walker. While Walker had played well early in the year, it all fell apart for him as he suffered a season ending back injury.

Really, the Mets were dropping like flies across the infield that season. That also included players like David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Wilmer Flores. As the Mets headed into September, they really didn’t have a second baseman, and they needed one to emerge.

Rivera had a cup of coffee due to these injuries earlier in the season, and he had played well. That included a four hit game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Still, he had been sent down, and he wasn’t given the initial or even the second or third crack at the job. Finally, on September 13th, he was inserted into the starting lineup, and Rivera responded by going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in the Mets 10 inning victory against the Nationals. That homer Rivera hit was a game winning homer in the top of the 10th inning.

From there, Rivera was the second baseman as the Mets rode the very hot hand. Over the final month of the season, Rivera hit .358/.378/.552 with two doubles, a triple, three homers, and 13 RBI. With that, Rivera would be in the starting lineup in the Wild Card Game.

To put things into perspective, entering the ninth inning, there were just seven hits total in that game as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner were absolutely dominant. Through those first eight innings, Rivera was the only player with an extra base hit. The real shame in that game was no one could score Rivera after his lead-off double in the fifth.

While Rivera did not secure a starting spot on the Mets 2017 roster, he did secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. Due to a number of roster issues, he was shuttled back-and-forth between New York and Las Vegas a bit. That said, when he played, he hit. In his 73 games, he hit .290/.330/.430 with 13 doubles, a triple, five homers, and 27 RBI.

Unfortunately, he was done in late July with an elbow injury which would eventually need Tommy John surgery. When Rivera went on the DL then, it effectively ended his Mets career. Currently, he is fighting to get back to the Majors, which is currently being made difficult by the COVID19 shutdown.

Even though Rivera had a shorter than anticipated Mets career, he was a driving force to getting the Mets to the 2016 postseason. He proved to be a good hitter, and ultimately, that is why is the best of the five Mets to wear the number 54.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford

 

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