13 DUPACR: Edgardo Alfonzo

With 13 Days Until Pitchers And Catchers Report, we mark the day with former #13 Edgardo Alfonzo.

“Fonzie” was a key player for the last Met team to win the NL pennant, a quiet leader who spent his first four years as one of the best-kept secrets in baseball. By 1999, though, the secret was out, as Alfonzo exploded with 27 HR, 41 doubles, 108 RBI, and a .304 AVG. He followed that up with an even better season in 2000, hitting another 25 HR, reaching .324 AVG and posting a .967 OPS. But it wasn’t just about the offensive numbers — Fonzie did everything well. He could hit, of course, and he also ran the bases well (with speed and intelligence), played Gold-Glove defense (at two different positions), and from all accounts a good clubhouse guy during his peak years in Flushing. Other All-Stars such as Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, and John Olerud may have overshadowed him, but for a six-year period, it could be argued that Edgardo Alfonzo was the Mets’ best all-around ballplayer.

One thing in particular about Fonzie that sticks in my memory was his “clutchness” in 1999 and 2000; it seemed that whenever the Mets needed a big hit, either he or Olerud came up with it. Of course, our memories are not always perfect, and there are people who don’t put much stock into the concept of “clutch”, so I went back to check the numbers. As it turns out, in ’99, Fonzie hit .340 with a .925 OPS in “high leverage” situations; in 2000 he was .333 / .963 in the same situations. A few more numbers from 2000: .360 AVG / 1.043 OPS with 2 outs and RISP; .357 / 1.057 in “late and close” situations; and .323/.956 in tie ballgames. The last stat is congruent with his overall performance in all situations in ’00, so from that one could suggest that Alfonzo was simply good and the situational numbers reflected that. But those other two stats in particular suggest that he stepped up his game a notch when the heat was on, and if nothing else, prove my memory was in line with the reality.

Other than Alfonzo, not too many other notable Mets wore #13; Billy Wagner was the most recent, and the only other Met to wear it for more than 3 years. The rest of the #13s includes, among others, Neil Allen, Roger Craig, Clint Hurdle, Matt Ginter, Jorge Velandia, Rodney “Crash” McCray, Rick Cerone, Jeff Musselman, Brian Daubach, and Lee Mazzilli (who wore it on his second go-around in Flushing, from ’86-’98).

What Met do you most associate with #13, and why?

The countdown thus far:

#13 Edgardo Alfonzo
#14 Gil Hodges
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike February 2, 2011 at 11:22 am
    This era of Mets was my first really. I started watching baseball after the strike (my first memory was Todd Hundley hurting his wrist in the collision at the plate with Eric Young of the Rockies); I was about 10 and did not know anything about baseball. Fonzie was one of my childhood heroes because he had this quiet confidence that I admired. If fact most of the important Mets were mild mannered and had temperate attitudes in those years. Once they brought in Ricky and Bonilla though they were the counter to that. This was a case of the team not really reflecting their manager (Bobby V). I thought that Bobby took the pressure off these more quiet guys and the stronger personalities like Ricky and Bonilla really took away from that clubhouse chemistry. Too bad, because if that ’99 team had the 2000 pitching staff they would have one the World Series (or at least gotten there, thanks Kenny Rodgers!).

    I think Fonzie’s career is a bit tarnished by his obvious age discrepancy. He was not as young as people thought he was, and I think that Phillips knew that, which is why he let him walk. He was really bad with the Giants so I can’t hate that decision (a rare good move by the GM).

  2. Walnutz15 February 2, 2011 at 11:47 am
    The running joke in college was how old we all thought Fonzie truly was.

    “25” in 1999?

    “28” by the time he left after 2002?

    Never bought into his age. myself….and it definitely lessened the blow when the Mets decided to let him ship-out to the West Coast.

    All of this aside, Fonzie was the ULTIMATE good soldier. He truly got dicked-around by the Mets, especially anytime they had one of their “let’s acquire someone we already have at that position, and move Fonzie over” revelations.

    Starting with the Baerga acquisition, continuing with the Ventura, Alomar, and Matsui acquisitions — Fonzie was always the guy doing the shuffling.

    The fact that he was so productive during his Met tenure was testament to his skill. Pretty versatile, good eye in the box — just not built for MLB over the long haul.

    Weight gain + Bad back + probably older than you say you are = Fonzie’s later years.

    Guy was fun to root for, though.

  3. argonbunnies February 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm
    Fonzie might be the best clutch hitter the Mets have ever developed. Seeing your team home-grow an athletic superstar like Straw is great. But in some ways it’s even better to have a mid-talent guy play the game right and come up big. He’s not bringing confidence over from some other team, this is 100% Met here. A winning Met? Awesome. With a better team and no back injury, he could have been our Jeter.

    After the quality ABs of his first 3 seasons, we thought David Wright might be that guy. Alas, no more. He’s got much more power than Fonzie, but is already an easier out in a big spot than Fonzie ever was.

  4. mrtasan February 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    i remember fonzie to be very professional…and the way the mets handled him towards the end of his mets career was very unprofessional….mmm…and now they have a financial crisis on their hands….karma?