There have been an infinite number of second basemen that have played for the New York Mets in the now 58 years the franchise has existed. Two of the greatest second basemen in MLB history, Roberto Alomar and their current second baseman Robinson Cano, have patrolled the position for the Mets. Neither one came close to the impact that Edgardo Alfonzo had while at the helm between 1999-2001.
Alfonzo originally was a shortstop while playing in his native Venezuela. Venezuela has produced many incredible shortstops over the years: Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, Chico Carrasquel, Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Guillen, and Elvis Andrus. Concepcion, Vizquel and Aparicio are three of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game. While in the Mets minor league system, Alfonzo eventually switched his position to third base and was the Mets regular third baseman beginning in 1995, his rookie season. After the Mets signed free agent All-Star third baseman Robin Ventura after the 1998 season, Alfonzo was forced to switch positions again. It was this move to second base that coincided with his greatest years both at the plate and in the field.
The 1999 New York Mets were one of the greatest teams in the history of the franchise. Led by future Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Rickey Henderson, the team had a machine of an offense. There were five everyday players who batted over .300. They also sported one of the greatest defensive infields in the history of the sport, with gold gloves won by Ventura at third and Rey Ordonez at shortstop. First baseman John Olerud would win one the following year and many felt Alfonzo was robbed of the gold glove at third base in 1999. Despite not winning the gold glove, Alfonzo did win the silver slugger award for the best offensive player at third base that year, batting .304 with 27 home runs and 108 RBIs. Finally, to top off his incredible year, Alfonzo hit two home runs in game one of the divisional series playoffs against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a ninth inning grand slam in the top of the ninth inning that proved to be the game winning hit.
The 2000 season was another stellar season for Alfonzo both in the field and at the plate. Alfonzo batted .324 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI’s and once again helped lead the Mets to the playoffs. He had a phenomenal National League playoff series at the plate, including batting .444 in the Mets five game defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series for the first time in 14 years, eventually losing to their crosstown rivals the Yankees in five games.
Alfonzo’s numbers dropped drastically in 2001 due to several injuries. In 2002, he was once again moved back to third base as the Mets acquired future Hall of Famer Alomar to play second. It was a disastrous acquisition as Alomar proved to be past his prime and was a complete bust. Alfonzo batted .308 in what would be his final season as a Met.
My father loved the way Alfonzo played the game. When my father first saw Alfonzo play for the Mets in 1995, my father proclaimed that Alfonzo would go down as one of the greatest Mets of all time. Alfonzo proved him right, as his clutch hitting and superior defense makes Fonzie, as he’s affectionately called by longtime Mets fans, the greatest second baseman ever to wear a Mets uniform.