Timo Perez made his MLB debut as a member of the 2000 New York Mets. Despite a fine start, one moment in the postseason defined his year and possibly his career in New York.
Timo Perez is a guy in New York Mets history we all know but probably think played a lot more than he actually did. Although he stuck around for four seasons, he amassed only 372 games for an average of just 93 over the course of his Mets career.
Perez was a guy I classified as a “cool” baseball player. He wasn’t big in an era when first basemen he tree trunks for forearms and the average shortstop could bench press a car. Perez was a slight-of-frame speedster who made his debut with the 2000 Mets.
Prior to coming to the Amazins, Perez spent some time playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League from 1996-1999. He was signed as a free agent by the Mets after the 1999 campaign, eventually making his MLB debut on September 1 when the rosters expanded.
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Before he made it to Queens, Perez pulverized minor league pitchers. He didn’t do it with power. Perez used his inner-Tony Gwynn to slash .357/.393/.519 across 355 plate appearances.
The performance begged for a big league promotion which the Mets finally did when they saw the value he could supply them—especially on the base paths.
Perez ended the year batting .286/.333/.469 in 54 chances. He was especially effective in the final days of the season when he started regularly in a variety of outfield positions.
As an example, he managed to raise his batting average from .222 on September 22 up to the .286 where it finished on September 30.
This wasn’t the end of Perez’s time with the Mets. With a playoff push ahead of them, he got his opportunity to play regularly following an early postseason injury to right fielder Derek Bell.
Perez hit .294 in the NLDS and .304 in the NLCS. He combined to steal three bases and drive in the same number of runs in the two series victories.
Championship hopes came to a stop when the orange and blue were defeated in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Perez was a major part of this—his .125 batting average in 17 plate appearances as one of the causes.
In addition to his bat, Perez’s inexperience in the big leagues played a role in the defeat.
Game One included an infamous moment where Perez was thrown out at home after believing a Todd Zeile hit was going over the wall for a home run. The sixth inning base-running blunder kept the game tied at zero instead of giving the Mets the lead.
The Mets went on to lose the game in extra innings, leaving us with major questions about what could have been.
Sadly, the single that put Perez on base in the first place to create this ugly moment was one of only two hits he would have all series.
Perez never did seem to find much redemption with the Metropolitans. He was back to dominating in Triple-A at the beginning of 2001 but did get a much earlier big league promotion. He had a career year for the Mets in 2002.
By this point, the Mets were fading in the standings on a regular basis. They didn’t get to the postseason again until 2006.
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Perez’s debut season didn’t end the way any of us wanted. It’s unfortunate that one miscue seemed to erase what looked like the promising start to a major league career.