The Greatest Infield Ever, Ordonez, Ventura, Fonzi and Olerud
MLB Network’s show Prime 9, recently did a show ranking the top nine infields Major League Baseball history, the Mets were 7th on their list. While the show ranks the infields by all around stats and defense, it is clear that the 1999 Mets infield are the best defensive quartet in history. In 1999 the New York Mets infield set the Major League record with just 27 combined errors. The foursome lead the Major Leagues with a combined .992 fielding percentage. One of the most amazing stats of this season was that the Mets only allowed 20 unearned runs all season. The infield was lead by veterans on the corners in 1B John Olerud and Robin Ventura at 3rd. Up the middle featured the youngsters Rey Ordonez at shortstop and Edgardo Alfonzo at 2nd base. Statistically the Mets stack up as the best defensive infield of all time. On the offensive side, Olerud, Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo all held their own, while the Ordonez only stood out with his glove.
In the off season prior to the 1999 season, the Mets acquired Robin Ventura as a free agent. The move caused a shift in the infield, moving current 3rd baseman Edgardo Alfonzo to second base. Rey Ordonez and Edgardo Alfonzo would both lead the league in fielding percenage. John Olerud would pick balls out of the dirt with ease, as well as snag hard hit balls with the best of them. Robin Ventura and Rey Ordnoez would cap off the tremendous defensive season by both winning gold gloves at their respective positions.
1B John Olerud
Defense – 9 errors, .994 Fielding %
Offense – .298, 19 HR, 96 RBI, 39 2B, 107 Runs
2B Edgardo Alfonzo
Defense – 5 errors, .993 Fielding %
Offense – .304, 27 HR, 108 RBI, 41 2B, 123 Runs
SS Rey Ordonez
Defense – 4 errors, .994 fielding %, 1999 Gold Glove
Offense – .258, 1 HR, 60 RBI, 24 2B, 49 Runs
3B Robin Ventura
Defense – 9 errors, .980 fielding %, 1999 Gold Glove
Offense – .301, 32 HR, 120 RBI, 38 2B, 88 Runs
The 1999 Mets infield will always be remembered for their superb defensive play. It was extremely difficult to get anything through the infield without one of them getting their glove on it. Not only were they fundamentally sound, they were flashy too.
Rey Ordonez made a habit of diving for balls in the hole and throwing from his knees to gun out runners. While Fonzi covered the right side and Ventura snagged balls from the hot corner. The steady Olerud made the other three feel comfortable to try anything because he would be there to pick it out of the dirt. With all of the fanfare this quartet received, it is usually forgotten that they had a Hall of Fame Catcher behind the plate in Mike Piazza. He himself had a tremendous season batting .303 with 40 homers and 124 RBI, in helping the Mets to their first playoff birth since 1988.