Lenny Harris

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.

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

Mets Finally Listening To What Everyone Told Them Over A Month Ago

It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.

Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.

There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.

Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.

With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.

The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.

To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.

J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.

And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.

Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.

Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.

Five Aces Finally Deal In

The Mets are 9-1, and they are now off to the best start in franchise history.  However, right now, when it comes to the Mets, this isn’t even the biggest news of the season:

Saturday, April 7th at Washington – Steven Matz
Sunday, April 8th at Washington – Matt Harvey
Monday, April 9th at Miami – Noah Syndergaard
Tuesday, April 10th at Miami – Jacob deGrom
Wednesday, April 11th at Miami – Zack Wheeler

Sometime after 7:10 P.M., after the bottom of the first has ended, the dream will finally be realized.  The Five Aces will have finally taken one turn through the rotation. What’s funny about it is the dream was thought to be dead.

In 2015, before Syndergaard and Matz were called up to the majors, Wheeler needed Tommy John surgery.  As a result, this meant the dream, which was still in its infancy, would have to wait a year.

Heading into 2016, the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon to help allow Wheeler to take his time in his rehab.  He would have a number of setbacks, and he would never pitch in 2016.  That year also saw deGrom, Harvey, and Matz befall season ending injuries themselves.

In 2017, the Mets were once again poised to have them all in the same rotation.  However, Matz would need to begin the season on the disabled list.  Syndergaard didn’t have an MRI and tore his lat.  Harvey and Wheeler would find their way onto the disabled list with stress reactions after they had probably been rushed into the rotation before they were ready.

The progress in 2017 was they at least all made a start in the same season.  That was something Generation K never did.  In 1995, we saw Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher in the same rotation.  Like with Wheeler, it was discovered Pulsipher needed Tommy John during the ensuing Spring Training.  As a result, this meant it was just Isringhausen and Paul Wilson in the rotation.

In 1997, Isringhausen was the only one to pitch for the Mets with Wilson pitching in the minors with shoulder problems and Pulsipher experiencing depression and complications from Tommy John.  Pulsipher would be the only one to pitch for the Mets in 1998 with Isringhausen hurt and Wilson hurt and in the minors.

In 1998, Pulipsher was the first to go.  He was traded to the Brewers for Mike Kinkade.  In 1999, it was Isringhausen’s turn to go as the Mets thought it better to use him to obtain Billy Taylor rather than use him in the bullpen.

Pulsipher came back to the organization in 2000, and he lost the Spring Training competition for the fifth starter spot to Glendon Rusch.  Both he and Wilson would get traded that season as the Mets sought reinforcements in Lenny Harris, Bubba Trammell, and Rick White to help them win a World Series.

The odd thing about seeing Generation K all being traded away for supporting pieces was they were supposed to be the leading drive towards a World Series.  Overall, they’d never appear in the same rotation, and they would pitch for the Mets in the postseason.

Seeing Generation K’s struggles makes what is happening tonight all the more remarkable.  Not only are we finally seeing these five pitchers in the same rotation, but we have already seen them have the success we once expected from Generation K.  In fact, they’ve been much more successful.

In many ways, seeing Wheeler start tonight is going to slay many demons for the entire Mets organization.

From the start the Mets have had and the seemingly magic tough Mickey Callaway has had, there is a lot more in store for the Mets.  That said, short of David Wright taking the field again, it is going to be hard to envision a more powerful moment that will happen this (regular) season.

Why Isn’t Edgardo Alfonzo In the Mets Hall of Fame?

Back in 2012, the New York Mets announced their 50th Anniversary Team.  Reviewing the list none of the players named should come as a surprise.  It should come as even less of a surprise that of all the players named to the team, all the retired players have been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Well, all but one player has.

The greatest second baseman in Mets history, Edgardo Alfonzo, still has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  He has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame despite his being retired since 2006 and despite his presence in the Mets organization for the past few seasons.  Put another way, this is not a player who has poor ties with the organization and that would be hard to bring back to honor him.  Looking at it from that perspective, it is shocking to say the least that Alfonzo is not in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Judging by WAR alone, Alfonzo is the best middle infielder in Mets history posting a career 29.5 WAR as a Met.  That 29.5 WAR ranks him as the seventh best Met in history.  That puts him ahead of players like Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and Bud Harrelson, all of whom have already been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  With that said, WAR only tells part of the story of the impact Alfonzo has had on Mets history.

In eight seasons as a New York Met, Alfonzo hit .292/.367/.445 with 120 homers and 538 RBI.  In those eight years, Alfonzo was one of the best Mets to ever put on a uniform.  It’s why he was named as the best second baseman in Mets history.  Naturally, Alfonzo ranks high in the Top 10 in many offensive categories:

  • Games (1,086) – 10th
  • PA (4,449) – 8th
  • AB (3,897) – 9th
  • Runs (614) – 5th
  • Hits (1,136) – 5th
  • Doubles (212) – 6th
  • Homers (120) – 9th
  • XBH (346) – 8th
  • RBI (538) – 7th
  • Average (.292) – tied 5th
  • OBP (.367) – 7th

The advanced numbers paint a number better picture of Alfonzo.  His WAR is fourth best for a Mets position player, second for a Mets infielder, and the best for a Mets middle infielder.  His 2000 6.4 WAR ranks as the fifth best season by a Mets position player.  His defensive WAR is the sixth best in Mets history, third best by a Mets infielder, and best by a Mets second baseman.  He ranks fifth in runs created, eighth in adjusted batting runs, and eighth in WPA.

Alfonzo led the Mets in runs, hits, and doubles in the 1990s.  In that same decade, he also had the finished second in games played, at bats, total bases, and RBI.  In the decade he was also fourth in triples, seventh in homers, eighth in stolen bases, third in walks, and third in batting average.  Arguably, he was the Mets best player of the decade.

In addition to these numbers, Alfonzo was named to an All Star team (should have been more than the one), won a Silver Slugger, and had three top 15 MVP finishes.  He finished second in Gold Glove voting in 1999 and 2001 as a second baseman.  In 1997, he finished second in Gold Glove voting as a third baseman.  Still, Alfonzo was much more than all of this.

When thinking of Alfonzo it is near impossible to choose just one moment that highlights his career.  You can start with him being part of the greatest defensive infield ever assembled.  In the 1999 Wild Card play-in game, he followed Rickey Henderson‘s leadoff home run with a home run of his own to give Al Leiter all the cushion he needed for the Mets to claim the Wild Card and head to the NLDS.  In Game One of the NLDS, he would homer off Randy Johnson in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, and then he would hit a grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard in the ninth to break the 4-4 tie.  In the clinching Game 4, he got the Mets on the board with a fourth inning homer off of Brian Anderson.

Alfonzo would come up similarly big in the 2000 NLDS.  In Game 2, with the Mets already down 1-o in the series, and with Armando Benitez having blown the save, Alfonzo ripped a double down the left field line scoring Lenny Harris.  Lost in the shuffle of that inning was the fact that he had hit a home run in the ninth giving the Mets some much needed insurance runs.  In any event, the RBI double allowed the Mets to tie the series and return to the NLCS for a second consecutive year.  In the 2000 NLCS, Alfonzo was one of a few Mets that probably should have been named the NLCS MVP.  In the five game series, Alfonzo hit an incredible .444/.565/.611 with five runs, a double, a triple, and four RBI.

Unsurprisingly, Alfonzo is the Mets all-time leader in postseason hits, games played, and g0-ahead hits.  In fact, four of those hits were in the 7th inning or later.  That is the second best mark in postseason history – not Mets postseason history – all of baseball history.

Speaking of hits, Alfonzo became the first ever Met to go 6/6 in a game.  In what ranks as the most impressive hitting display in Mets history, Alfonzo hit three home runs and a double while recording five RBI.  There have been no Mets and only one National League player that has posted a higher game score since 1999.

Somehow, some way none of this has garnered Alfonzo enough support to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  It’s wrong because Alfonzo is not just the best second baseman in Mets history, he is the best middle infielder in Mets history.  He was a pivotal member of two teams that went to the postseason, and he had huge hits on those postseasons.  He has set a number of Mets records.  Overall, there is absolutely no way you can deny that Alfonzo is one of the best players in Mets history.  Accordingly, he deserves enshrinement into the Mets Hall of Fame.