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He may be the greatest second baseman the Mets have ever had, but originally, Edgardo Alfonzo was a very good third baseman.
One of the most popular Mets during his time, Alfonzo could hit for both power and average. He ran the bases intelligently and was always one of the best defensively from both a fielding and throwing perspective.
Alfonzo broke into the majors in 1995 as a utility infielder. At just 21 years of age, Fonzie batted .278 with four home runs and 41 RBI. He played mostly at third base, but also filled in at second base and shortstop. However, his season was cut short due to a herniated disk and he missed the last months of the season because of it.
In 1996, with Rey Ordonez as the new shortstop, Jose Vizcaino shifted to second base and Jeff Kent moved to third base, Alfonzo was the one left on the bench. His average fell to .261 and he finished with four home runs and 40 RBI. After Kent and Vizcaino got traded, Alfonzo played more at second base.
In what turned out to be his breakout season, Alfonzo became the starting third baseman in 1997 once Butch Huskey was permanently moved to the outfield. Alfonzo hit .315 that year with 10 home runs, 72 RBI, 27 doubles and a .391 on-base percentage. At this point, Alfonzo became one of the most promising young players on a much improved Mets team.
In 1998, Alfonzo followed up his breakout season with another solid season. He batted .278 with 17 home runs, 78 RBI and 28 doubles.
In 1999, Alfonzo shifted to second base when Ventura arrived and went on to have his best season. He set career-highs with 27 home runs and 108 RBI and won his first and only Silver Slugger Award. He also had 123 runs scored, 191 hits, 41 doubles, a career high 315 total bases and a .385 on-base percentage. He had many clutch hits and set a Mets record by going 6-for-6 with three home runs and scoring six runs in a game against the Astros. He even appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover as part of the "Best Infield Ever."
In 2000, Alfonzo set a career-high with a .324 average to go along with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. He also had 109 runs scored, 176 hits, 40 doubles, a remarkable career high .425 on-base percentage and a career high .542 slugging percentage.
He made his only All-Star team that year and was clutch once again in the postseason. Many fans would point to Mike Piazza's success as the reason why the Mets made the World Series that year, but Alfonzo's significant contributions were just as critical.
In 2001, Alfonzo failed to duplicate his 1999 and 2000 success. His average fell to just .243, and he only had 17 home runs and 49 RBI. He missed almost a month with a lower back strain.
Alfonzo shifted back to third base in 2002 to accommodate the disappointing arrival of Gold Glove second baseman Roberto Alomar. In what turned out to be his final Mets season, Alfonzo raised his average to .308, but his run production did not improve, as he finished with 16 home runs and 56 RBI.
After the 2002 season, Alfonzo signed with the Giants in 2003. He played there from 2003-2005 before moving onto the Angels in 2006. After getting released in May of that year, Alfonzo caught on with the Blue Jays, but got released again after just 12 games. In the end, Alfonzo was back in the Mets' minor league system on their Triple-A team trying to get back to the majors.
Since 2007, Alfonzo has bounced around and spent time with the Long Island Ducks, Yomiuri Giants and Newark Bears.
Although his prime only lasted around four seasons from 1997-2000, Alfonzo will always remain a fan favorite for those that were fortunate to watch him. He only spent three full seasons as the Mets' starting third baseman (1997, 1998 and 2002), but among all third basemen in Mets history, Alfonzo is definitely one of the more elite third basemen the team has had.