Mets speedster Roger Cedeno had an unexpectedly awesome 1999 season

New York Mets outfielder Roger Cedeno had an unexpectedly awesome 1999 season headlined by his stolen bases.

The best part of Roger Cedeno’s career all began in 1999 as a member of the New York Mets. Acquired via trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his first year with the Amazins ended up being an unexpectedly awesome one.

Enough time has gone by where I think many of us forget how Cedeno’s career played out. Prior to joining New York, he was a mostly part-time player with the Dodgers. Mostly one-dimensional with speed as his greatest asset, he didn’t take over running until the 1999 season in orange and blue.

After a .242/.317/.321 season over a career-best 271 plate appearances, Cedeno found himself playing often for the Mets in 1999. He packed in 155 games with the team and managed to step up to the plate a total of 525 times.

Cedeno made the most of this promotion to full-timer. He slashed .313/.396/.408 for the Mets. I don’t think anyone saw this year coming from his bat.

Although the batting average and OBP were great, those totals don’t come close to matching what Cedeno did on the base paths. Maybe sharing a locker room with Rickey Henderson helped. Whatever it was, Cedeno ran wild and stole 66 bases.

Before this season, the Mets single-season record was 58 stolen bases. Mookie Wilson set this total back in 1982. Jose Reyes would eventually beat Cedeno’s mark with 78 swiped bags in 2007.

Still, there’s something remarkable about what Cedeno did in 1999. After parts of four big league seasons, he joined the Mets with only 23 stolen bases.

Cedeno did manage to continue playing the way he did with the Houston Astros in 2000 and then the Detroit Tigers in 2001. He stole 25 bases in Houston across 74 games played and 55 in 131 with the Tigers.

When he returned to the Mets via free agency for the 2002 season, the base-stealing prowess wasn’t nearly as dominant. The same is true for his bat.

Cedeno hit .260/.318/.346 in his first year with the Mets with 25 stolen bases in 562 plate appearances. In year two, he slashed .267/.320/.378 with only 14 in 527 trips to the plate.

Cedeno wasn’t the same player he was back in 1999. While still quick and dangerous on the bases, it wasn’t an attribute that set him above the rest. It certainly didn’t help that he was reaching base at a far less pace, thus eliminating many of those stolen bases opportunities.

In retrospect, Cedeno appears to be one of those young athletes who tired out quickly. His final two years with the St. Louis Cardinals included a .241/.299/.331 slash line and only 5 stolen bases in 132 games played. Minus his speed and with a diminishing bat, Cedeno’s big league career ended after his age 30 season in 2005.

One final note I would like to point out is how productive Cedeno was during the 1999 NLCS. Although this series ended with a Mets loss to the Atlanta Braves, Cedeno did a lot right. He went 6 for 12 at the plate and managed to steal a pair of bases. It wasn’t an iconic postseason series but it was still a good one we don’t really remember because of the results.

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Cedeno has no real legacy in Mets history. He no longer holds the single-season stolen base record and because his return didn’t turn out so well and came as a part of some bad Mets teams, I feel Cedeno is one of those players in franchise history with a single great season and not much else.

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