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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday… Edgardo Alfonzo

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One of my favorite Mets was Edgardo Alfonzo. He played three infield position, was a smart baseball player, hit for power and hit in the clutch.

He is often overlooked when Met fans recall players that have been good players in this franchise’s history. It’s easy to remember, Tom Seaver,Mike Piazza , Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden, but Edgardo Alfonzo aka Fonzie…rarely gets notice.  Well today on Smallthoughts: Old school Tuesday …he will not be overlooked. While Alfonzo played for the Mets, Giants, Angels and the Blue Jays, for today we are focusing on his career as a Met.

Alfonzo was signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1991. That year he joined the Gulf Coast League Mets. The following season Alfonzo moved up and split time with the short season “A” Pittsfield Mets of the New York–Penn League and Class “A” Florida State League St. Lucie Mets in 1992. Alfonzo returned to St. Lucie the next season and played for them in 1993. In 1994, he was promoted to the Binghamton Mets of the Class “AA” Eastern League, and led the team in home runs and RBI.

Alfonzo made his Major League debut on April 26, 1995. At the beginning, he was a semi-regular fielder, splitting time at second base, shortstop, and third base with several others. During his rookie season, Alfonzo spent most of his time at third base while accumulating a .310 batting average after the mid-season break. In 1997 and 1998, he started regularly on third. After the 1998 season, the Mets signed third baseman Robin Ventura, and Alfonzo was forced to move to second base. While he was upset about the move at first, he became one of the best defensive second baseman in the league from 19992001. Alfonzo was part of the infield considered to be among the best infields in MLB history on a cover of Sports Illustrated, along with Rey Ordóñez, Robin Ventura, and John Olerud.[1] Before the 2002 season, the Mets signed the aging Roberto Alomar, and despite Alfonzo’s tremendous offensive and defensive contributions during the previous three seasons, he was forced to move back to third base. He remained strong defensively; however, he struggled on offense, and the Mets decided not to re-sign him.

Alfonzo had his first opportunity to display his clutch hitting ability to a nationwide audience in the 1999 playoffs. After finishing in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card, the Mets played a one game playoff to decide who would go on to the division series. In his first at bat of the game, Alfonzo homered over the center field fence, providing the Mets with all the offense they would need as Al Leiter threw a complete game shutout. On the very next night, the Mets played the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the Division Series. Facing the feared Randy Johnson, Alfonzo again homered in his first at bat of the game, this time launching a two-run shot to center field. In the ninth inning of the same game, with the score deadlocked at 4–4 Alfonzo launched a grand slam down the left field line to help seal the victory for the Mets.

In 2000, playing against the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series, Alfonzo hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of game two, which would prove to be of immense importance as J.T. Snow launched a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. The Mets would eventually win the game 5–4 in ten innings. In game three of the series with the Mets trailing 2–1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Giants brought in their dominant closer Robb Nen, who had not blown a save since the All-Star break. Alfonzo responded by lining a ball down the left field line for a double to drive in Lenny Harris. Benny Agbayani would later homer in the thirteenth inning to win the game for New York. Alfonzo then batted .444 against the Cardinals in the NLCS. He hit .143 in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Alfonzo’s knack for getting the big hit in the clutch spot had endeared him to many Met fans who still consider him one of the all-time Met greats.

Coming off two excellent seasons in which he batted .304 and .324, Alfonzo had every reason to expect a big year in 2001. He had his best power numbers in 1999 (27 home runs, 108 RBI, 41 doubles) and 2000 (25, 94, 40), and at 27, he was at an age in which many hitters have their best season. However, Alfonzo suffered from a variety of injuries, including sore right hand, knee, thigh and a back injury from years before, costing him playing time and lowering his stats to .243, 17 HR, 49 RBI. He finished 2002 with .308, 16, 56, and signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent in the off-season.

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …the understated Edgardo Alfonzo.

MLB debut
April 26, 1995 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
June 11, 2006 for the Toronto Blue Jays
Career statistics
Batting average .284
Home runs 146
Runs batted in 744
Teams
Career highlights and awards
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