MLB Top 5: New York Mets Middle Infielders

This is the third article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the New York Mets. In this installment are second basemen and shortstops.

The Mets middle infielders have traditionally been good contact hitters and included plenty of speed and defense. However, the club’s current starting shortstop is adding a power element to the mix.

The Best Second Basemen and Shortstops in New York Mets History

Second Basemen

Honorable Mentions – Ken Boswell was selected by the Mets in the 1965 draft, which also produced Nolan Ryan. He had a brief call-up in 1967 and became a starter in the second half of the following season. Boswell was a spark during the Mets’ 31-10 record over the final six weeks of the 1969 regular season. He had a game-winning single in the 12th inning on September 10 against the Expos that put the Mets in first place for the first time in team history. In the playoffs, Boswell homered twice against the Braves in the NLCS and had a single and a run scored in Game 3 of the World Series, his only appearance against the Orioles.

In eight seasons with New York (1967-74), Boswell had 538 hits, 31 home runs and 193 RBIs in 681 games. He batted .421 in eight postseason contests (8-for-19) with six runs, eight hits, two homers and five RBIs. Boswell finished his career with three seasons coming off the bench for the Astros and worked in antique auto sales after his retirement in 1977.

Felix Millan was a member of the Braves team that lost to the Mets in the 1969 NLCS and was traded to New York before their next great season in 1973. That year, he batted .290 with 185 hits and was a key factor in the Mets reaching the World Series. Although the Athletics prevailed in seven games, “The Cat” totaled eight runs, 12 hits and three RBIs in 12 postseason games. He was also notoriously difficult to strike out, fanning just 242 times in 1,480 games over a 12-year career.

Millan’s big-league career (and five-year Mets run) came to an end during an August 1977 game against the Pirates. Ed Ott ran into him in a play at second base and he responded with a punch to the face. Ott retaliated by picking Millan up and slamming him to the ground, which caused a broken clavicle and a dislocated shoulder. He played three years in Japan and one in Mexico before he officially retired. Millan worked as an instructor for both the Mets and Major League baseball for many years after his playing career ended.

Doug Flynn was a two-time champion with Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” teams of the mid-1970s before he came to New York in the infamous 1977 trade for Mets legend Tom Seaver. Flynn started as a shortstop before moving over after the injury to Millan. Known for his fielding and baserunning, he spent five seasons with the Mets (1977-81), winning the gold glove in 1980 (despite a wrist injury) and legging out 26 triples, which ranks tied for ninth in franchise history.

Flynn had 500 hits and 155 RBIs in 636 games with the Mets, and he led all National League second basemen in putouts and double plays in 1979. He spent time with Texas and Montreal before ending his career with Detroit in 1985. After his playing days, Flynn performed country music, led Kentucky’s anti-drug program and managed the Gulf Coast League Mets in 1997.

Tim Teufel was known for his “Teufel Shuffle” hip movement as he stepped into the batter’s box. He was traded to the Mets by the Twins in early 1986 for future Athletics general manager and “Moneyball” proponent Billy Beane. Teufel was in a platoon during New York’s championship season, starting five games against lefties in the playoffs and hitting a home run in Game 5 of the World Series.

Teufel had his best season the following year, setting career highs with a .308 average, 14 home runs and 61 RBIs. He hung around in a reserve role for most of his six seasons with the Mets (1986-91), amassing 328 hits and 164 RBIs in 463 games. Teufel finished his career with three seasons in San Diego and spent two decades as a scout, instructor, coach and manager in the Mets’ organization before he was let go after the 2022 season.

5. Wally Backman – He was a first-round pick of the Mets in 1977 and spent his first nine years in New York (1980-88). Backman suffered from a lack of playing time his first four years and also suffered a torn rotator cuff. He finally got the opportunity to start in 1984, and his ability to get on base helped his team win 98 games that year.

Backman was awful against lefties, so he platooned with Teufel in 1986 and responded with a career-best .320 average. With the Mets wanting to get top prospect Gregg Jefferies into the lineup, they traded Backman to the Twins after the 1988 season. He finished ranked ninth in franchise history with 106 stolen bases, and he batted .283 with 359 runs, 670 hits and 165 RBIs in 765 games. In 19 playoff games with New York, Backman had 11 runs, 17 hits, five RBIs and four steals.

Known for his fiery personality, Backman overcame alcohol issues to become a manager in the minors and with independent league teams after his playing career ended in 1993. He was the skipper for the Mets’ A-ball team in Brooklyn in 2010 and worked his way up through their system before resigning in 2016. After a year in Mexico, Backman returned to the independent leagues, most recently with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks.

4. Ron Hunt – He played just four seasons with the early Mets (1963-66) but was an All-Star twice and became the first Met to start in the Midsummer Classic, which he did in the 1964 game held at newly opened Shea Stadium. Hunt also was the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year Award voting in 1963 after batting .272 and setting career highs with 145 hits, 10 home runs and 42 runs batted in.

Hunt was a good contact hitter who batted .282 with 207 runs, 474 hits and 127 RBIs with the Mets. However, his claim to fame is getting hit by a pitch, which occurred 243 times during his big-league career. Hunt led the league in the category for seven straight years, including 1971, when he was hit 50 times as a member of the Expos, setting a modern baseball record. He also played for the Dodgers and Giants before ending his career with the Cardinals in 1974. Hunt ran an instructional camp in Missouri for more than 30 years and now is battling Parkinson’s disease.

3. Jeff McNeil – The current starter at the position has become a versatile contact hitter and a team leader during his six seasons in New York (2018-present). During that time, McNeil has reached the .300 mark four times and led the league at .326 in 2022. The two-time All-Star first was selected to the game in 1999 after moving to left field to accommodate the newly acquired Robinson Cano. McNeil responded with a .318 average and set career highs with 83 runs, 23 home runs and 75 runs batted in.

Following a down year in 2021, “Squirrel” responded with a silver slugger, thanks to a personal-best 174 hits and 39 doubles to go along with his batting title. His average dropped to .270 in 2023, but he continues to make great contact and get on base for the big hitters in the Mets’ lineup. McNeil does have to contend with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament suffered at the end of the regular season. He ranks second in franchise history with a .298 average to go with 333 runs, 722 hits, 146 doubles, 56 home runs and 269 RBIs in 672 games. In the Wild Card series against the Padres, McNeil batted .182 (2-for-11) with one run, a double and two runs batted in.

2. Daniel Murphy – Many players hope for a single “defining moment” in their big-league careers, but Murphy had a postseason for the ages during the Mets’ run to the World Series in 2015. He spent time in left field and at first base early in his career (including a lost 2010 season thanks to an MCL tear) before converting to the keystone position in 2012. In seven seasons with the Mets (2008-09 and 11-15), he batted over .300 twice and was an All-Star in 2014.

Murphy’s best campaign with the Mets came the year before, when he batted .286 with 92 runs, 13 home runs and 78 runs batted in and posted career highs with 188 hits and 23 stolen bases. In 2015, he spent time at three infield positions before settling in at second base. Although he was held in check for most of the World Series, “Murph” torched the Dodgers and Cubs in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He became the first person to homer in six straight postseason games and was named the MVP of the NLCS sweep of Chicago.

Murphy ranks third in franchise history with 228 doubles and eighth with a .288 average. He also amassed 422 runs, 967 hits, 62 homers, 402 RBIs and 1,421 total bases in 903 games. He finished his ridiculous playoff season with 13 runs, 19 hits, seven home runs and 11 RBIs in 14 games. Murphy used his new hero status to get a big contract from the Nationals in the offseason, and he earned All-Star selections in his first two seasons with Washington.

“Murph” was traded to the Cubs and spent two years with the Rockies before retiring in 2021. He came back in 2023 to play with the independent Long Island Ducks, as well as the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in Salt Lake before retiring again. Murphy will work with the Mets announce team during spring training in 2024.

1. Edgardo Alfonzo – He split his eight-year Mets career (1995-2002) evenly between this spot and third base, but he had his more memorable seasons at the keystone position. Alfonzo jumped from Double-A to the majors after the player’s strike ended in 1995 and he played most of his first four seasons at the “hot corner.” He moved to second base full-time in 1999 and had a career year, winning his only silver slugger, batting .304 and setting career highs with 123 runs (second in team history), 191 hits, 41 doubles, 27 home runs and 108 runs batted in. Alfonzo was also part of what Sports Illustrated called the “Best Infield Ever” and made just five errors in 158 games.

“Fonzie” came up big during the team’s run to the playoffs that season. He drove in the only runs of the game with a two-run, first-inning home run in the one-game playoff victory over the Reds. In Game 1 of the Division Series against the Diamondback, he homered off future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, then hit a game-winning grand slam later in the contest. Alfonzo hit another home run in Game 4 to help send the Mets to the NLCS.

In 2000, Alfonzo was selected to his only All-Star Game after setting career bests with a .324 average and a .425 on-base percentage (third in team history) to go with 109 runs, 176 hits, 25 homers and 94 RBIs. He was a hitting star against the Giants and Cardinals in the playoffs before the Yankees shut him down in the World Series.

Alfonzo had a down year in 2001 and, while his average jumped back to .308 the following year, he found himself without a contract after the Mets acquired Roberto Alomar. He spent three years with the Giants and split his final season between the Angels and Blue Jays in 2006. Alfonzo is tied for third in franchise history with a .292 average and he ranks fifth in runs (614) and hits (1,136), sixth in doubles (212), seventh in RBIs (538) and total bases (1,736) and tenth in games (1,086) to go with 120 home runs. He added 15 runs, 26 hits, eight doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs in 24 postseason games with New York.

“Fonzie” played in independent leagues as well as Mexico, Japan and his native Venezuela until he officially retired in 2012. He worked as a coach and minor league instructor with the Mets, managing their affiliate in Brooklyn to the New York-Penn League Championship in 2019.


Honorable Mentions – Rafael Santana spent four seasons with the Mets (1984-87) and was the starter for the 1986 championship club, despite posting his worst offensive numbers that season. He was solid in the field, especially during the NLCS victory over the Astros, and had five hits, three runs scored and two RBIs against the Red Sox in the World Series. After a career season the following year, Santana was traded to the Yankees in 1988. He missed all of the 1989 season after elbow surgery and retired after spending the following year with the Indians. Santana was a scout and minor league manager in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic before joining the White Sox as a scouting and player development supervisor.

Kevin Elster had brief call-ups in his first two years and had four at-bats in the 1986 playoffs, including one in the World Series. After Santana was traded, he spent the next four years as a starting shortstop, becoming a decent run-producer despite a low average. Elster was also stellar defensively, setting a record of 88 straight errorless games at shortstop in 1988-89. Shoulder problems cost him nearly half of the 1990 season and all but six games in 1992. After a year out of the major, Elster left the Mets following a seven-year run (1986-92) and played for five other teams and retired officially after a failed tryout with the Yankees in 2002. He had 355 hits and 174 RBIs in 537 games with the Mets.

Ruben Tejada started off as a second baseman and moved one spot to his right after the top player on this list left as a free agent. He filled the mold as a decent defensive player who took a spot at the bottom of the lineup. His best season was 2012, when he set career bests with a .289 average, 53 runs, 134 hits and 26 doubles. Tejada began the 2015 season as a starter but lost playing time as the season went on. He had just five at-bats against the Dodgers in the Division Series, striking out each time (while also drawing a walk and scoring a run) and did not appear in either the NLCS or the World Series.

Tejada played seven seasons with the Mets (2010-15 and ’19), totaling 493 hits and 148 RBIs in 586 games. He spent three years bouncing around baseball before returning to the Mets and playing six games in 2019. Tejada had a few failed big-league tryouts, spent 2023 with the Long Island Ducks (seemingly a favorite spot for ex-Met middle infielders) and signed to play in Mexico in 2024.

5. Amed Rosario – He was a two-time MLB Futures Game participant who spent his first four seasons in New York (2017-2020). During that time, he had arguably his best offensive season in 2019, when he set career highs with a .287 average, 30 doubles, 15 home runs, 72 RBIs and 24 stolen bases to go along with 75 runs, 177 hits.

“El Niño” batted .268 with 187 runs, 396 hits, 32 homers and 148 RBIs in 403 games with the Mets. He was sent to the Indians for another player on this list, was moved to the Dodgers (for former Met Noah Syndergaard) at the 2023 trade deadline and is currently a free agent.

4. Rey Ordoñez – He defected from Cuba in 1992 and was starting for the Mets four years later. Ordoñez earned some consideration for the Rookie of the Year Award and was a passable hitter, but he made his mark on defense. He earned three straight gold gloves, with his final one coming in 1999 as part of arguably the greatest starting infield in terms of fielding in baseball history. Ordoñez made just four errors in 154 games that season, including a record stretch of 100 straight without an error, and he had some of the best range in the game.

Ordoñez also set career highs with 134 hits and 60 runs batted in to help the Mets reach the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. He had four hits and drove in two runs against the Diamondbacks in the Division Series but went just 1-for-25 (.042) in the NLCS loss to the Braves. Ordoñez missed most of the 2000 due to a broken ulna bone in his arm suffered when a runner slid headfirst into him at second base.

Over the final two years of his Mets tenure, Ordoñez’s hitting did not improve, and both his attitude and his defense began to suffer. He was traded to Tampa Bay and spent a year each with the Devil Rays and Cubs before retiring in 2004. Ordoñez had several failed tryouts over the next few years and has been out of baseball completely since 2007. He finished his career in New York with a .245 average, 720 hits, 115 doubles and 260 RBIs in 916 games and added five hits and two RBIs in 10 playoff contests.

3. Francisco Lindor – The middle infield spots are no longer just for the “no-hit, all-field” crowd and Lindor is proof of that idea. He began his career with the Indians, finishing as the runner-up for the 2015 Rookie of the Year Award and earning four All-Star selections, two gold gloves, two silver sluggers and three Top 10 MVP finishes in Cleveland.

Lindor was traded to the Mets along with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in the six-player deal also involving Rosario, and he agreed to a 10-year, $341 million contract extension mere hours before the 2021 season began. Although he hit 20 home runs in his first season in New York, he struggled at the plate and was frequently booed by Mets fans. Lindor responded with a much better season in 2022, batting .270 with 170 hits, 26 homers and a career-high 107 runs batted in. The following year, his average dropped to .253, but he still was productive, scoring 108 runs, hitting 31 home runs, driving in 98 runs and stealing a career-best 31 bases.

Mr. Smile” has 279 runs, 427 hits, 77 homers and 268 RBIs in 446 games and has a silver slugger and two Top 10 MVP finishes in his three seasons in New York (2021-present). He is also a capable fielder, leading the league in putouts in 2022 and assists last year. During the 2022 postseason, Lindor went 2-for-10 with two runs scored and a home run in the three-game Wild Card loss to the Padres.

2. Derrel “Bud” Harrelson – He had brief call-ups in each of his first two seasons in the majors before starting with the Mets on a full-time basis in 1967. In the era where shortstops were expected to be solid fielders and provide little else, Harrelson was a decent contact hitter, topping 130 hits in a season three times, earning two All-Star selections and winning the gold glove in 1970.

During the 1969 “Miracle Mets” season, in which the team relied on a platoon system throughout the lineup, Harrelson was one of the few full-time starters. He finished off the Mets’ NLCS victory over the Braves by starting a double play and had five hits and drove in three runs in eight postseason games. The following year, Harrelson tied a National League record with 54 straight errorless games, and he set career bests with 138 hits and 28 stolen bases.

Harrelson had his most memorable moment during Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS against the heavily favored Reds. He took exception to Pete Rose sliding hard into him at second base, with the two of them coming to blows while the benches emptied. Harrelson and the Mets won the series and the shortstop had six hits during the seven-game loss to the Athletics in the World Series.

Injuries plagued Harrelson for his final four seasons in New York and he was sent to Philadelphia during spring training in 1978. He spent two years with the Phillies and one with the Rangers before retiring in 1980. Harrelson ranks third in franchise history in triples (45) and walks (573), fourth in games (1,322), seventh in hits (1,029) and eighth in steals (115) to go with 490 runs, 123 doubles, 242 RBIs and 1,260 total bases in 13 seasons (1965-77).

Harrelson appeared in 20 postseason games, totaling six runs, 14 hits and six RBIs. He was a broadcaster, minor league manager and major league coach for the Mets, even getting to manage the big-league club to a 145-129 record over two seasons. Following his Mets career, Harrelson was a co-owner, coach and executive with the Long Island Ducks when they began play in 2000. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 and passed away due to complications from the condition on January 10, 2024.

1. Jose Reyes – He, along with David Wright, was one of the stars for the Mets when they had success in the mid-2000s. His nickname, “La Melaza” literally means “molasses” in Spanish, but it was given to him by a friend as a child to mean “sweetness.” Reyes had many “sweet” plays during his career and used his bunting ability, good contact rate and most importantly, his speed to baffle opposing defenses throughout his 12 seasons with the Mets (2003-11 and 16-18).

After two injury-plagued seasons, Reyes’ career finally took off in 2005, when he posted his first of our straight seasons with at least 50 steals, 190 hits and 12 triples. He led the league in stolen bases and triples three times each in that span and scored at least 100 runs three times. Reyes’ 78 steals in 2007 are a franchise record, and his league-leading totals of 204 hits and 19 triples the following year are both second in team history.

Although the Mets were upended by the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, Reyes did his part, posting five runs and nine hits in the series and totaling 11 hits in 11 career postseason games. The shortstop was a star and had already broken the team record for stolen bases, but the team had late-season collapses in each of the next two years. However, he missed most of the 2009 season with calf and hamstring injuries.

Reyes returned strong and was an All-Star in each of the next two seasons, giving him four selections overall. The 2006 silver slugger led the league with 16 triples in 2011 and also won a batting title at .337 (third-best in team history). Reyes left as a free agent and spent time with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies before returning to the Mets in 2016. While he made a few starts at second base early in his career, he played all over the field in his second stint with the club, especially third base.

Reyes is the all-time franchise leader in stolen bases (408) and triples (113), ranks second in runs (885), hits (1,534), doubles (272) and total bases (2,356), third in games (1,365) and tied for eighth in RBIs (521). The 2002 MLB Futures Game participant also batted .282 with 108 home runs. Outside of his major league career, Reyes owns a record label, played in three World Baseball Classic events and was on the cover of the Major League Baseball 2K8 video game.

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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