Former New York Mets infielder Edgardo Alfonzo was once the cornerstone of a World Series team.
He was also quietly one of the better all-around and underrated hitters in his generation, being a critical part of the Mets’ lineup.
— Mets Home Run a Day (@MetsHRADay) April 22, 2021
However, he was often overshadowed by future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, who headlined the franchise.
Despite this, he won the respect of players within the organization who viewed him as the team’s best player.
“Fonzie”, as he was known, was a model of consistency early in his career, as it looked like a trip to Cooperstown was destined for him.
It was a short-lived career for Alfonzo though, as he was out of the league after his age-32 season.
Since then, he has shrunk into obscurity for many casual baseball fans.
What happened to him?
Here is a look at the life and career of Alfonzo, with a look into why he did not stick around the majors for longer and where he is today.
Road To The Majors
Alfonzo was born and raised in Venezuela, where he learned to play baseball at a young age.
This was alongside his older brother Edgar, who was signed by the California Angels in 1985 when Alfonzo was just 11.
However, Alfonzo was not far behind his brother.
He was signed by the Mets in 1991 at just 17-years-old, entering the minor leagues that year.
— Brian Wright (@BrianWright86) February 19, 2021
This is where he began to set himself apart, as he dominated in his professional debut.
In 54 games with the Mets’ rookie team, he hit .331 in 175 at-bats.
The next year he was even better, hitting .350 across low and high-A.
After a couple more solid seasons of development in the minors when he saw his power numbers increase, Alfonzo was finally called up.
In 1995, at just 21-years-old, he made his MLB debut.
This marked the start of his stay as a cornerstone in the Mets’ lineup.
Alfonzo Makes Impact
In his rookie season, Alfonzo was a solid contributor.
In 101 games, he posted a .278 batting average with four home runs.
These were not standout numbers and he did not earn any Rookie of the Year honors, but it was a promising start for the young infielder.
There was not much improvement with his production in 1996, as his numbers were once again very similar.
However, he took a major step forward in 1997.
He played in 151 games, upping his average to .315 and hitting 10 home runs.
This even was enough to earn some recognition in MVP voting, as he finished 13th in the race.
In 1998, his average dipped to .278 but his power increased as he hit 17 homers.
This set up a 1999 season that was arguably the greatest of his career.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 30, 2019
In 158 games, Alfonzo hit a career-high 27 home runs, drove in 108 runs and had a .304 average.
However, it would be the 2000 season that would help cement his legacy among Mets fans.
Alfonzo Helps Fuel World Series Appearance
During the 2000 season, the Mets had one of the National League’s best teams.
They showed this in the playoffs.
The team easily handled the Barry Bonds-led San Francisco Giants in the NLDS.
Edgardo Alfonzo ties it up in the 8th to set the stage for an epic finale.
Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS starts RIGHT NOW. pic.twitter.com/CeGbpI0Dek
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 24, 2020
They then faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, where Alfonzo stepped up to lead the charge.
In his 18 at-bats during the series, he hit .217 with four RBI.
This helped give the Mets their first World Series berth since 1986, where they ultimately fell to the New York Yankees.
While this was another standout year for Alfonzo, it would prove to be the last such one.
The end of the 2000 season would unfortunately also mark the decline of his production.
Nagging Injuries Derail Alfonzo’s Career
After two stellar years in 1999 and 2000, Alfonzo had a disappointing 2001.
This was due to a variety of injuries that never allowed the star to get going.
While he posted a solid year in 2002 with a .308 average, his power totals had a stark drop.
That offseason, he signed a contract with the Giants, where his numbers continued to decline.
— Sporting Green (@SportingGreenSF) June 22, 2020
A number of injuries also continued to limit his talent in the field and at the plate.
Finally, in 2006 he hit just .126 in 30 games before being released.
However, this was not the last baseball Alfonzo played.
After being released, he went to play for the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent professional team.
He was then picked back up by the Mets and optioned to Triple-A, where he finished the 2006 season.
After that season, he bounced between different independent teams, MLB clubs and Japanese teams before officially retiring in 2012.
By the end of his MLB career, Alfonzo totaled 1,532 hits, 146 home runs and a .284 average.
These were relatively disappointing totals for a hitter that was looking to become a mainstay in the sport.
For many around the Mets, Cooperstown was expected to be in his future at some point before his career was derailed due to injuries.
Because of this, he has become one of baseball’s forgotten stars.
Since retiring, Alfonzo has turned to staying around the game as a coach.
Most of his time as a coach has come with the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets minor league affiliate.
After spending a couple seasons as a bench coach, he became the team’s manager in 2017.
Congrats to Cyclones Manager Edgardo Alfonzo on collecting his 100th career win with the Cyclones as Brooklyn swept a doubleheader from the Connecticut Tigers today in Norwich, pic.twitter.com/PSg4JWUIvJ
— Brooklyn Cyclones (@BKCyclones) August 24, 2019
He then led them to a league championship in 2019 before being let go by the Mets after the season.
However, he could become a name to look out for in future manager roles if he chooses to stay around the sport.
In January of 2020, it was announced that he would be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Be here to celebrate history!
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 8, 2021
His list of accomplishments with the franchise is long, including ranking third in hits.
He is also the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason hits.
While he may have never lived up to his potential, Alfonzo put together a great career.