New York Mets: Top 10 Second Basemen in Team History

Shale BriskinContributor IIIJune 22, 2011

New York Mets: Top 10 Second Basemen in Team History

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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 03: Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on June 3, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    In part five of the greatest Mets in team history by position, we move onto second base.

    The Mets have certainly had a revolving door at second base, with 129 players appearing at the position in a Mets uniform in franchise history. A big reason for this is that the Mets have not had the easiest time finding stability at a position that is not too well known offensively. In other words, there have not been as many great hitters that play second base, compared to first base, third base and the outfield. 

    Speaking of revolving doors, the Mets have lately had one at second base. Once Luis Castillo was finally released in Spring Training, four players competed for the starting second base job. Brad Emaus won the job, but did not hit well in April to keep the position.

    As a result, Daniel Murphy was given the position. All was well until first baseman Ike Davis got injured in May. As a result, Murphy shifted to first base and Justin Turner started playing second base. However, David Wright got injured soon afterward and Turner had to shift to third base. Now, Ruben Tejada is playing second base after being called up from the minor leagues.

    Tejada played second base for 50 games in 2010, so this is nothing new for the Mets. When Davis and Wright both get healthy, it's likely that Murphy and Turner will platoon at second base. 

    Being that all of these players have not been playing with the Mets for too long, they did not make the Top 10 list, but here are the ones that did.

10. Gregg Jefferies

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    1989:  Gregg Jefferies of the New York Mets gets ready to field the ball during a game in the 1989 season. ( Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Starting off the list is Gregg Jefferies. Drafted by the Mets in 1985, the team had wanted to call him up, but did not know where to put him. He played second base, shortstop and third base in the minor leagues and could also play the outfield.

    Jefferies made his MLB debut in 1987 during a brief September call-up. He had three hits in just six at-bats and was the youngest player in the league at the times, being just 19 years old.

    Because of the veteran logjam the Mets had, Jefferies started the 1988 season in Triple-A. He got called up in August and finished out the year by starting at third base. Regular third baseman Howard Johnson filled in at shortstop to give Jefferies more playing time. He batted .321 during this stretch with six home runs and 17 RBI. He also batted .333 in 27 postseason at-bats. 

    Thanks to his late season hitting, the Mets decided to trade starting second baseman Wally Backman to the Twins to give Jefferies a starting job in 1989.

    However, Jefferies failed to live up to his expectations by batting .258 as a rookie. His lack of patience at the plate showed with just 39 walks all season. He finished the year with 12 home runs and 56 RBI. Jefferies though will be most remembered in 1989 for the bench-clearing fight he had with former Met Roger McDowell in the season's last game. Ironically, more Mets fans cheered for McDowell, a 1980s fan favorite, than Jefferies.

    Jefferies improved in 1990 by raising his average to .283, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 68 RBI. His walk rate barely improved, but he also only struck out just 40 times, which really shows how often Jefferies put the ball in play. 

    That would turn out to be the best season in Jefferies' Mets tenure. In 1991, his average fell to .272 and he finished with nine home runs and 62 RBI. In May of that year, Jefferies openly responded to the criticism he felt he was given by teammates and fans, regarding his attitude. The message did not help Jefferies' case and he got traded to the Royals after the 1991 season.

    Jefferies spent 1992 with the Royals before going to the Cardinals, where he had his two best seasons. He made the All-Star team in both 1993 and 1994.

    After the Cardinals refused to change his no-trade clause, Jefferies earned a bigger payday by signing with the Phillies. He moved to the outfield, but did not play as well in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 as he did with the Cardinals.

    Jefferies then got traded to the Angels in the middle of 1998, where he finished the season. He spent 1999 and 2000 with the Tigers and mostly as a reserve before retiring.

    Jefferies could have become one of the best second basemen in Mets history, but a lack of patience at the plate and attitude problems did not help his case. Fans will still remember the fight he got into with McDowell though.

9. Jose Valentin

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    NEW YORK ? OCTOBER 12:  Infielder Jose Valentin #18 of the New York Mets waits for a St. Louis Cardinals pitch during game one of the NLCS at Shea Stadium on October 12, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets wo
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jose Valentin did not even spend two full seasons with the Mets, but the surprising impact he had on the Mets in 2006 was good enough to get him the number nine ranking.

    Valentin spent the first eight years of his MLB career with the Brewers, mostly as their shortstop. During his time there, he showed good power, particularly in 1996 when he belted 24 home runs and drove in a career-high 95 RBI. 

    Before the 2000 season, Valentin got traded to the White Sox, where he spent the next five seasons. He hit 25 or more home runs each season, including a career high 30 in 2004. He played 2005 with the Dodgers, but struggled with injuries during spring training and only appeared in 56 games during the regular season.

    In the 2005-2006 offseason, Valentin was signed by the Mets. His goal was to try to make the major league club as a utility player. However, due to the continued struggles of starting second baseman Kaz Matsui, the Mets ended up trading Matsui and gave Valentin the starting job at second base.

    That year, Valentin ended up having an excellent comeback season and one of the best in his career. He batted .271 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in a surprising role. All the offensive attention for the Mets in 2006 was focused on David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, but Valentin was another reliable contributor towards the Mets' playoff run that year. He also hit two home runs in the division-clinching game that year against the Marlins.

    Due to his resurgence in 2006, the Mets signed Valentin to a one-year contract for 2007 with an option for 2008. Valentin switched from number 18 to 22 in order to accommodate the arrival of veteran outfielder Moises Alou. However, 2007 would not be the same for Valentin. He missed a little more than a month (April 30-June 7) while being on the disabled list with a partial tear of the ACL ligament in his knee. Valentin played decently when he came back, but with a .241 average, three home runs and 18 RBI, it was clear that an upgrade was necessary at second base.

    Then, on July 20, Valentin fouled a ball off his tibia, which ended his season. The Mets then infamously traded for Luis Castillo, which only created more problems at second base.

    In 2008, Valentin re-signed with the Mets on a minor league deal. In June of that year, he told the Mets' Triple A team, the New Orleans Zephyrs, that his season was over due to the wear and tear of his body. He then signed another minor league deal with the Mets in 2009, but was released after not making the team out of spring training.

    Although Valentin never formally retired, it can be assumed that his career is over.

    Although he only had one solid season with the Mets in 2006, Jose Valentin was a great comeback player and certainly one of the better second basemen of the 2000s decade, especially because he played between two complete disappointments in Matsui and Castillo.

8. Doug Flynn

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    Doug Flynn played during one of the darkest eras in Mets history, but he was one of the better players on those teams. Originally acquired from the Reds during the Midnight Massacre, Flynn ended up becoming a mainstay at second base for five seasons. He never was a good hitter, but was definitely one of the better defensive second basemen at the time.

    Flynn first came up with the Reds and spent 1975-1977 with them and won two World Series rings in 1975 and 1976.

    Then, all of a sudden, Mets ace Tom Seaver demanded a trade after not getting along with chairman M. Donald Grant. Flynn was one of the main pieces the Mets acquired in compensation for losing Seaver. 

    Flynn only batted .191 during the Mets portion of his 1977 season. After Felix Millan retired, Flynn became the starting second baseman. His 1978 season was rather similar, with a .237 average, zero home runs and 36 RBI. He neither walked nor struck out a lot. In fact, he only hit 20 total extra-base hits, which shows how much of a singles-hitter he was. 

    Flynn ended up having his best offensive season with the Mets in 1979. He raised his average to .243, hit four home runs and drove in 61 RBI. He only had 17 walks, which can explain his very low .265 OBP.

    In 1980, Flynn finally won a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts. His offensive numbers were more of the same, with a .255 average, zero home runs and 24 RBI. On August 5, Flynn tied a Mets record by hitting three triples in one game. In 1981, Flynn's average fell to .222, and he only had one home run and 20 RBI. 

    After the 1981 season, Flynn was traded to the Rangers. He spent part of the 1982 season there before getting traded to the Expos. He stayed with the Expos through the 1985 season.

    Midway through 1985, he got released. Soon after, he was signed by the Tigers, with whom he spent the rest of the season with. In the following spring training, the Tigers released Flynn, who subsequently retired.

    Flynn was not a good hitter and played on some pretty bad Mets teams, but he contributed solid defense and was not one of the biggest reasons for why the Mets were as bad as they were those years.

7. Ron Hunt

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    The first notable second baseman in Mets history was Ron Hunt. He is particularly significant because he was the Mets' first-ever starting player in the All-Star Game in 1964. Ironically, that year was the only time the Mets hosted that All-Star Game at Shea Stadium. 

    Hunt started his Mets career in 1963 as the Mets' starting second baseman. He finished as the Rookie of the Year runner-up to Pete Rose by batting .272 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. That year, he also set a then-team record with 28 doubles, which was broken in 1967 by Tommy Davis. 

    In 1964, the Mets moved into Shea Stadium and Hunt had an even better season. The All-Star second baseman batted .303 with six home runs and 42 RBI. His on-base percentage probably would have been higher if he had more than just 33 walks. 

    Hunt's 1965 season was not as good. He missed three months with a separated shoulder, which would explain his .240 average, one home run and 10 RBI in limited at-bats.

    Hunt bounced back in 1966 to have another productive season in what would turn out to be his last with the Mets. He batted .288 with three home runs and 33 RBI. He made the All-Star team that year for the second and last time in his career.

    After the season, the Mets traded Hunt and Jim Hickman to the Dodgers. Hunt was heartbroken that he got traded, but then, he was traded to the Giants after one season in Los Angeles. Hunt spent 1968-1970 before getting traded again to the Expos, whom he spent 1971-1974 with. In the middle of 1974, he got waived to the Cardinals, where he spent the rest of the season. After getting released in the following spring training, Hunt decided to retire. 

    Hunt was always known for getting hit by pitches. For a while, he held the career record by hits by pitch with 243. Don Baylor was the first to break the mark with 267, but Craig Biggio currently holds the record with 285 hit by pitches.

    Ron Hunt was the first Mets All-Star and certainly one of the better players on the early Mets teams.

6. Ken Boswell

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    After Ron Hunt got traded, Ken Boswell was the next second baseman to take over the position for the Mets. Boswell was the regular second baseman for the Mets until 1973 when Felix Millan was acquired. At that point, Boswell became a utility player off the bench.

    Boswell originally got called up in September of 1967, but only got nine hits in 40 at-bats. He played more in 1968 and batted .261 with four home runs and 11 RBI.

    In 1969, Boswell finally got his big break and became the starting second baseman. However, he only played against right-handed pitchers, while Al Weis started against the left-handed pitchers. That year, Boswell batted .279 with three home runs and 32 RBI, while the Mets ended up winning the World Series. In the NLCS against the Braves, Boswell was clutch with two home runs and five RBI in the series.

    Boswell's average fell in 1970 to .254, but he hit five home runs and drove in a career-high 44 RBI. In 1971, Boswell produced similar numbers with a .273 average, five home runs and 40 RBI. However, in 1972, Boswell's average dropped to just .211. Despite this, he hit a career-high nine home runs and collected 33 RBI. 

    At that point, the Mets felt they needed an upgrade at second base, which led to the Felix Millan trade. Boswell then became a utility infielder. He actually spent more time at third base in 1973 than his more familiar second base. Boswell did not perform well in this role as he hit .227 with two home runs and 14 RBI. 1974 was not much for better for him as he finished with a .216 average, two home runs and 15 RBI. 

    After the 1974 season, the Mets traded Boswell to the Astros. He spent 1975-1977 there before retiring. 

    Ken Boswell was not a flashy second baseman, but he was a steady contributor during the 1969 championship season, and he will always be remembered as the second baseman of that team.

5. Tim Teufel

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    1990:  Tim Teufel of the New York Mets stands ready at bat during a game in the 1990 season. ( Photo by: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Known as part of the 1980s second base platoon, Tim Teufel was a solid contributor to the Mets' success in those years. He mostly played against left-handed starting pitchers. Wally Backman had been the Mets' everyday second baseman. However, he struggled mightily as a right-handed hitter. As a result, the Mets decided to upgrade and trade for Teufel, who had spent the 1983-1985 seasons with the Twins.

    Teufel was mostly a part-time player for the Mets in 1986. He finished the season with a .247 average, four home runs and 31 RBI. On June 10, Teufel had one of the most exciting moments for the Mets that year with a walk-off pinch-hit grand slam in the 11th inning against the Phillies. A month later, he, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda and Rick Aguilera were arrested after a bar fight in Houston.

    In the 1986 postseason, Teufel had one hit in six at-bats during the NLCS, but went 4/9 in the World Series, including a home run in Game 5. However, Teufel also committed a critical error during Game 1 that allowed the Red Sox to score an unearned run.

    Teufel's 1987 season was a lot better. He raised his average to a career-high .308, to go along with 14 home runs and 61 RBI, which tied his previous career-highs. In 97 games, Teufel also had a .545 slugging percentage.

    In 1988, Teufel's numbers regressed. His average fell to .234, and he only had four home runs and 31 RBI. As a result, once Backman got traded after the season, the Mets passed over Teufel and put Gregg Jefferies as the new starting second baseman.

    Teufel's 1989 season was not much better than 1988. He finished with a .256 average, two home runs and 15 RBI. He bounced back in 1990 to hit 10 home runs, even though he only drove in 24 RBI and batted .246.

    In 1991, Teufel was batting just .118 in May before he got traded to the Padres for Garry Templeton. He spent the remainder of 1991, plus 1992 and 1993 with the Padres before retiring.

    Since his retirement, Teufel has been actively involved with the Mets in different capacities. After spending time as a scout, Teufel became a Mets' roving instructor in 2001 and 2002. He managed the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2003 and got promoted to managing the St. Lucie Mets in 2004 and 2005.

    After taking 2006 off, Teufel returned to the Mets as the Savannah Sand Gnats manager in 2007. He then managed the St. Lucie Mets in 2008 and 2009 before getting promoted to managing the Double-A Binghamton Mets. After the 2010 season, Teufel was once again promoted as the new manager of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, which is what he is doing today.

    Tim Teufel was never one of the Mets' best players in the late 1980s, but he will always be remembered as part of the 1986 team and his post-retirement contributions to the Mets have been pretty good so far.

4. Jeff Kent

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    14 May 1996:  Third baseman Jeff Kent of the New York Mets sets his feet in preparation to make a play in the field as he focuses on the batter during the Mets 9-4 loss to the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.   Mandatory C
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Known as one of the best hitters to ever play second base, Jeff Kent was certainly one of the more elite hitters with the Giants in the late 1990s and early 2000s. What some may not know is that Kent got his career started with the Mets from 1992-1996. The teams he played on were anything but good, but regardless, Kent was still one of the Mets' better hitters in those years.

    Kent started his professional career with the Blue Jays in 1992, but got sent to the Mets in August along with Ryan Thompson for David Cone. It was a trade that the Mets and their fans have certainly regretted. The main reason it happened was because Cone wanted a long-term contract and Al Harazin, the Mets' general manager at the time, did not want to give Cone such a deal.

    The Blue Jays certainly got the better end of that deal because Cone helped them win the 1992 and 1993 World Series, while Thompson became a huge disappointment and never lived up to his expectations.

    As for Kent, it was a mixed bag for him.

    Kent batted .239 with three home runs and 15 RBI after the trade. He was quickly known around the clubhouse for his short temper and stubbornness. He refused to participate in the Mets' rookie hazing because he felt that he already went through being a rookie with the Blue Jays. During the final game of the season, Kent made a very rare start at shortstop so that Willie Randolph could play his final career game at second base.

    Kent then had a breakout season in 1993 as the regular second baseman. He batted .270 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI, making this his best season as a Met. The team however was in a downward spiral and lost over 100 games for the first time since the 1960s.

    Kent continued his success in 1994. With Eddie Murray gone, Kent was counted on to be one of the Mets' big bats. His numbers were similar, as he finished with a .292 average, 14 home runs and 68 RBI before the players' strike wiped out the rest of the season.

    Kent had another solid season in 1995 with him and first baseman Rico Brogna being the two best hitters on the team that year. He batted .278 with 20 home runs and 65 RBI. However, Kent also continued to show a lack of patience at the plate with just 32 walks, which was the most he had as a Met.

    Due to the emergence of the young shortstop Rey Ordonez, manager Dallas Green decided to alter the infield positioning in 1996. With Ordonez as the new shortstop, he moved Jose Vizcaino from shortstop to second base and Kent from second base to third base. Edgardo Alfonzo, who had played third base for much of 1995 was sent to the bench and became a utility player.

    As a third baseman, Kent batted .290 in 1996 with nine home runs and 39 RBI by the end of July. However, he also made 21 errors in just 89 games. At the trade deadline, the Mets infamously sent both Kent and Vizcaino to the Indians for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza. This deal instantly became one of the worst trades in Mets history. While Baerga struggled with the Mets from 1996-1998 and never hit as well as he did in Cleveland, Kent ended up blossoming into the best hitting second baseman in baseball.

    After spending the last two months of the 1996 season with the Indians, Kent and Vizcaino were traded once again, but this time to the Giants for All-Star third baseman Matt Williams. Starting in 1997, Kent's career took off with the Giants as he batted behind the feared slugger Barry Bonds. He batted .250 with 29 home runs and 121 RBI that year.

    As a Giant, Kent became one of the most consistent RBI producers in the game, largely because Bonds drew many walks and Kent would drive him in. Kent's career peaked in 2000 when he won the NL MVP award with a .334 average, 33 home runs and 125 RBI. He continued to produce for the Giants through 2002. However, his relationship with Bonds got worse and worse, and once manager Dusty Baker left the Giants, Kent decided to sign with the Astros, whom he spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons with.

    After 2004, Kent played for the Dodgers from 2005-2008 before retiring at the age of 40. He is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest hitters to ever play second base, if not the greatest.

    The Mets gave up a lot for Kent in 1992 and accepted too little in return in 1996, but as a Met, Kent showed flashes of the amazing talent he had. Had the Mets not given up on him, he could have definitely taken the top spot on this list.

3. Felix Millan

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    One of the more dependable Mets in the 1970s, Felix Millan was the spark that the Mets needed when they traded for him prior to the 1973 season. By choking up on the bat so high, Millan was always known as someone who would consistently put the ball in play. Had it not been for a short temper, his Mets tenure could have lasted longer than it did. 

    Millan spent the first seven seasons of his career playing for the Braves. He was indeed on the 1969 Braves team that faced the eventual-world champion Mets in the NLCS. During his Braves years, he made the All-Star team three times (1969-1971) and won two Gold Glove awards in 1969 and 1972.

    After the 1972 season, the Mets sent Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella to the Braves for Millan and George Stone. In 1973, Millan led the Mets with a .290 average. He also had three home runs and 37 RBI. His 185 hits that season set a new team record. While choking up so high on the bat, led to a lot of hits for Millan, it limited his power dramatically. 

    In the 1973 World Series, Millan made a critical error in Game 1 that allowed two unearned runs to score. 

    In 1974, Millan's average fell to .268. He only had one home run with 33 RBI. He did bounce back in 1975 to bat .283 with 37 doubles, one home run and 56 RBI. He broke his own Mets record for most hits in a season with 191 hits. This record however would last 21 years. What was even more significant about Millan's season was that he became the first Mets player to play in all 162 games of the season. 

    Millan put up similar numbers in 1976 with a .282 average, one home run and 35 RBI. 1977 however was different. He ended up batting just .248 that year with two home runs and 21 RBI.

    Millan's fiery temper got the best of him on August 12 when he got into an on-field fight with Pirates catcher Ed Ott. After Ott slid hard into second base to try and break up a double play, Millan yelled at him and hit him with a baseball in his hand. Ott responded by slamming Millan hard into the Three Rivers Stadium turf, which injured Millan's shoulder. This injury was career-threatening and he never played another game with the Mets or any other major league team. 

    He then spent three seasons in the Japanese Central League with the Taiyo Whales, but got released after the 1980 season and retired.

    Felix Millan will always be remembered as one of the more aggressive players the Mets have had and he is certainly one of the best second basemen in team history. 

2. Wally Backman

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    1986:  Wally Backman #6 of the New York Mets looks on during the game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium circa 1986 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    One of the best second basemen to wear a Mets uniform, Wally Backman was one of the critical pieces to the Mets' success in the 1980s. Backman was not a big guy, but was as aggressive and gritty as any player in his time.

    The Mets drafted Backman in 1977 after he hit .548 in high school. He made his professional debut in 1980 and batted .323 in 93 at-bats while filling in for an injured Doug Flynn. 

    In 1981, Backman only had 36 at-bats before getting sent to the minor leagues. He then claimed he would retire and did not get called back up during the post-strike portion of the season. He batted .278 for the season.

    Backman split time at second base with Bob Bailor until he suffered a broken collarbone from a bicycle accident, which ended his season. In 96 games, Backman batted .272 with three home runs (the most he ever hit as a Met in one season) and 22 RBI. 

    In 1983, Backman grew frustrated at backing up the weaker-hitting Brian Giles and got shipped back and forth between the Mets and Triple-A Tidewater. As a result, he publicly demanded a trade. As it turned out, going to Triple-A was what Backman needed as he got to know Triple-A manager Davey Johnson. 

    In 1984, Backman finally got the big break his career needed when Johnson got promoted as the new Mets manager. He put Backman in as his regular second baseman, although Backman usually platooned with a right-handed hitting second baseman. Although he was a switch-hitter, Backman was much better from the left side (.306 average across nine seasons) than the right side (.164 average across nine seasons) where he consistently struggled. Backman batted .280 in 1984 with one home run, 26 RBI and 32 stolen bases. 

    In 1985, Backman was even better. He batted .273 with one home run, 38 RBI, 24 doubles and 30 stolen bases. With Lenny Dykstra called up as the new leadoff hitter, he and Backman intimidated pitchers with their patience and good batting eyes, as they got on base to set up the bigger bats in the lineup.

    Backman had his best season during the Mets' championship run in 1986. He raised his average to .320 and had one home run, 27 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .376 on-base percentage. By then, Tim Teufel had been acquired to play second base against left-handed starters. Backman batted .333 in 18 at-bats during the World Series.

    In 1987, Backman's average fell to just .250. He once again had just one home run and 23 RBI. One factor that played into this season was that Backman missed a few weeks with a hamstring injury, which definitely could have been bothering him for even longer.

    Backman bounced back to his normal form in 1988 by batting .303 with a .388 on-base percentage. He did not hit a single home run and finished with just 17 RBI. At this point, his platoon with Teufel was even more strict and Backman failed to appear in 100 games for the second consecutive season. He batted .273 in the NLCS against the Dodgers in what would be the final games of his Mets career.

    Due to the emergence of Gregg Jefferies, the Mets decided to trade Backman to the Twins prior to the 1989 season. Across nine seasons with the Mets, he batted .283 and had a .353 on-base percentage. He spent just that season there before signing with the Pirates in 1990. As a Pirate, he mostly backed up Jeff King at third base. 

    Backman then spent 1991 and 1992 with the Phillies. He signed with the Braves prior to 1993, but got cut in spring training. He then signed with the Mariners, but got released after batting just .138 in 38 games. 

    After retiring, Backman spent some time as a minor league manager before being hired as the Diamondbacks' manager for the 2005 season. However, he ended up getting fired just four days later as a result of some previous legal issues, which include a DUI, and declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying creditors. The Diamondbacks were not happy that Backman lied, which was a big reason as to why they fired him. 

    To repair his reputation, Backman then managed various independent league teams before returning to the Mets. He managed the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2010 before becoming a managerial candidate for the Mets prior to the 2011 season. The position was ultimately given to Terry Collins and Backman was given the job to manage the Double-A Binghamton Mets, which is what he is doing today.

    Thanks to his patient batting eye, hustle and overall aggressiveness, Backman is without a doubt one of the best second basemen the Mets have ever had. However, there is one former Mets second baseman that happened to be a better overall player.

1. Edgardo Alfonzo

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    31 Jul 2000:  Edgardo Alfonzo #13 of the New York Mets at bat in the infield during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-2.Mandatory Credit: Al Bello  /Allsport
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Although he originally came up as a third baseman, Edgardo Alfonzo's best seasons were as a second baseman. By far the best overall athlete the Mets have had at second base, 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.

    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 did not play second base as much as others over the years, but his 1999 and 2000 seasons were by far the best of anyone to have played the position for the Mets. Furthermore, since 2001, the Mets have yet to have a second baseman as good as Fonzie was.


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