NY Mets all-time one hit wonder bench squad of the 2000s
First Base – Jason Phillips
Another player that is tied to Mike Piazza, Jason Phillips may seem like an odd choice. After a couple of cups of coffee, in 2003 he was brought in as Piazza’s backup. With Piazza being behind the dish and Phillips swinging a hot bat, they moved him over to first base once Mo Vaughn went down with a career-ending injury.
The following season, the Mets made the failed attempt to move Piazza to first base and let Phillips catch and it seems that move backfired for him too, as he lost much of the spark he had the previous season.
2003 was a crazy year for the Mets, but none of it was crazier than watching Phillips do splits at first base.
2003 Key Stats: 11 Homeruns, 58 RBIs, 298 BA, 1.1 WAR
Second Base – Jose Valentin
Jose Valentin had a fairly good career before he got to the Mets in 2006 as he put together solid seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox. However, when he came to the Mets, many assumed he was finished and he rode the bench for the entirety of April and half of May.
When Kazuo Matsui, one of the biggest duds in Mets history, went down with an injury, Valentin got his time to shine. From then on, the 36-year-old revitalized his career and contributed key moments throughout their stretch-run. Perhaps one of the best was the decision to bat lefty on lefty vs Chris Hammond. Valentin, naturally a switch hitter, proceeded to blast a two-run home run.
The following season, poor play and injuries ended his career as a big leaguer.
2006 Key Stats: 18 Homeruns, 62 RBIs, .271 BA, 3.6 WAR
Third Base – T.J. Rivera
The story of T.J. Rivera is remarkable. He wasn’t supposed to be in the Major Leagues. He was signed as an amateur free agent out of New York by the Mets in 2011 and all he did was hit his way through the minors until they gave him a shot in 2016.
Late in the season, second baseman Neil Walker went down with a season-ending injury. Rivera had been having a monster year in the minors and was batting above .350. He continued that streak by batting .333 over the next 33 games. In fact, he was one of the players that helped carry them into that wild card birth as he batted .358 during September.
Rivera was having a fine season in 2017 as well, but he was hit with the dreaded Tommy John surgery mid-season. He never again made it back to the big leagues and from here on out, he’ll always be a tragic What If?
2016 Key Stats: 3 Homeruns, 16 RBIs, .333 BA, .8 WAR
Shortstop – Desi Relaford
Desi Relaford had been a familiar face to Mets fans as he played for the rival Phillies for a few seasons. He was a light-hitting shortstop on a team that already had one in Rey Ordonez. However, in 2001, Edgardo Alfonzo was having a tough year due to a back injury, couple that with an aging Robin Ventura, and a hardly hitting Ordonez, and there was plenty of time for Relaford to get his reps.
31 of those reps were as a pinch hitter and he along with Joe McEwing found themselves all over the infield. Relaford also found his stroke at the plate and batted over .300 for much of the season. Of course, many remember this season because of 9/11, but another memorable moment is Mets trivia lore.
In a game, in mid-May, there was a game vs. the San Diego Padres where the Padres were winning 15-3. Steve Trachsel had given up four home runs in the third inning and everyone else didn’t fare much better. Desi Relaford came in as mop-up duty and pitched a 1, 2, 3 ninth, even touching 91 mph on the radar gun, and striking his first batter out.
Relaford left the Mets after that memorable season and bounced around a bit. He was a high point on an otherwise disappointing season.
2001 Key Stats: 8 Homeruns, 36 RBIs, .302 BAT, 13 SB, 2.1 WAR