Infielder Desi Relaford spent only one season with the New York Mets. He hit .302 and even found himself pitching a scoreless inning.
The 2001 New York Mets season was highlighted by the Mike Piazza home run during the first game back after the tragic events of 9/11. While the team did play well, we don’t remember it as fondly as we do the prior two years when the club actually reached the playoffs.
This was a year when we saw many new faces with the team. One of those was infielder Desi Relaford. You may remember him best as one of the position players who took the mound for the Mets. At the plate, he also had the best offensive season of his career.
Relaford spent most of his big league career as a member of the rival Philadelphia Phillies. A 2000 trade sent him to the San Diego Padres and an October 2000 waiver claim brought him to the Mets. He was later traded with Tsuyoshi Shinjo to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Shawn Estes.
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Before the trade, Relaford did exactly what the Mets brought him in to do: hit baseballs, steal bases, and play all over the infield.
Relaford’s 2001 season included 340 plate appearances and a batting line of .302/.364/.472. All were career highs for the 27-year-old infielder who slashed .243/.319/.347 for his career.
In addition to hitting for a better average and reaching base at a higher clip, Relaford saw a slight uptick in his still light power numbers. He mashed 8 home runs which bested his previous high of only five. He would later match this total in 2003 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
Relaford played a whole lot of second base during the absence of Edgardo Alfonzo in 2001. Although he was not a gifted defender, he was also able to give them innings at shortstop and third base.
Tools like this were valuable to the team and their playoff hopes. Even on a squad with Joe McEwing doing the most super of utility man things, it was helpful to have Relaford to assist.
In a season when the offense took a step back from the previous season, guys like Relaford helped make the team a little more dangerous when it came to scoring runs. He wasn’t a great Met and I’d honestly be surprised if anyone even ironically purchased a jersey with his name on the back.
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As far as Mets who spent just a single season in Flushing go, he had one of the quieter productive years. It didn’t match Derek Bell in 2000 or Tommy Davis in 1967. For what they expected and what he delivered, we can only call it a successful pit stop in Queens.