Number 1: 1999
After doing even a little bit of research, it’s clear that this “ranking” is a one-horse race. The 1999 Mets had by far the best defensive team in franchise history, led by the sure-handed infield of Robin Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and John Olerud. These four players also helped produce one of the greatest defensive seasons in baseball history, by several metrics.
First, the 1999 infield committed only 33 errors all season, which is second only to the 2010 Yankees in fewest errors allowed by a major league infield since 1900. Alfonzo led the way in this department, committing only five errors all year and setting a new major league record by recording no errors on ground balls for the entire season.
Shockingly, Alfonzo did not win a Gold Glove in 1999 for his sparkling performance at second base, losing out to Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds (who also won the award in 2000).
Nevertheless, that memorable 1999 infield did produce two Gold Glove winners, Ordonez at shortstop and Ventura at third base. Ordonez, in particular, is known as a special kind of defensive wizard in Mets history, as this season was his third consecutive Gold Glove win. He also made history in 1999 for playing 100 consecutive games without committing an error, a then-record for MLB shortstops.
The 1999 team made even more history by allowing only 20 unearned runs all season, which accounted for 2.8% of their total runs allowed for the season. Both of those figures are major league records.
An Honorable Mention
Though he is not directly featured in this article, an honorable mention goes to 1983-1989, simply because of Keith Hernandez’s presence at first base. He is an easy choice for “best defender in franchise history,” and deserves his own article describing how his defense positively impacted the Mets.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
Perhaps Pete Alonso can snag a few minutes of Hernandez’s time this season to help further cement his own legacy as a first baseman in Flushing.