Fonzie or Flores? Best games by Mets hitter

January 11th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Baseball greatness comes in many forms. For some, it means a Hall of Fame career -- sustained success over years and even decades. But greatness can occur on a more temporary scale as well. Those who have enjoyed the most productive games of all-time include both legends and largely forgotten players.

The Mets have employed them all over their nearly six-decade history, as evidenced by this colorful list of the greatest single-game performances by a position player in franchise history:

1. : Aug. 30, 1999, at Astros
Only 13 Mets players have hit three home runs in a game. Only two have collected six hits. Only one managed to accomplish both feats on the same day. In a Monday night game at the Astrodome, Alfonzo went 6-for-6 with three homers, driving home five runs and scoring six times in the Mets’ 17-1 rout of the Astros.

The game was mere minutes old when Alfonzo hit a solo homer off Shane Reynolds. He followed with a single in the second inning as part of a six-run Mets rally, then a two-run homer in the fourth, then another solo shot to lead off the sixth. All three of Alfonzo’s homers came off different pitchers, and he wasn’t done. With the game well in hand, Alfonzo singled to lead off the eighth inning, before the Mets rallied to get him an extra at-bat in the ninth. He ripped an RBI double to set a Mets record with 16 total bases in a game. The kicker? Heading into the road trip, Alfonzo had been in a 3-for-30 slump.

2. : Aug. 21, 2015, at Rockies
Forget the Mets. Regardless of which city you look, it is difficult to find a more productive month than Céspedes’ late-season stretch in 2015, during which he established himself as one of the most impactful Trade Deadline acquisitions in baseball history. Céspedes hit .323/.379/.805 over a 31-game run from Aug. 12 to Sept. 14, clubbing 17 home runs and collecting 37 RBIs.

So relentless was that performance that it’s difficult to single out a specific game. We’ll do it anyway. At Coors Field on Aug. 21, Céspedes doubled and scored in the first inning, hit a grand slam in the second, led off the fourth with another homer, then added a two-run shot for good measure in the sixth. The final homer gave the Mets the lead in a game they went on to win 14-9 thanks in large part to Céspedes’ five-hit, three-homer, seven-RBI performance.

3. : July 3, 2016, vs. Cubs
The most memorable game of Flores’ career was easily July 31, 2015, when he endeared himself to Mets fans forever with a walk-off homer against the Nationals. But the most successful from a statistical standpoint? That occurred nearly a year later, when Flores went 6-for-6 to match Alfonzo as the only Mets to achieve a feat three times rarer than a no-hitter. Even more impressive was the fact that two of Flores’ hits were home runs, to go along with a quartet of singles. The performance raised his batting average 21 points and bumped his OPS up 93 points.

Flores’ final hit came against Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, who had taken the mound in the ninth inning of a blowout.

“I didn’t want to face a position player,” Flores said at the time. “But he threw one in the middle, and I hit it.”

4. Joe Foy: July 19, 1970, at Giants
Mets players have had at least five hits in a game 36 times, making it difficult to draw clear lines between them. All rank among the top individual performances in Mets history.

Foy’s contributions at Candlestick Park, however, have a strong case for consideration near the top of the list. Not only did Foy finish 5-for-5, recording a hit in each of his plate appearances, but he did so in significant enough situations to post the highest win probability added total of any five-hit game (and third overall) in Mets history. In the fourth inning, Foy cracked a two-run homer to bring the Mets within a run after the Giants had taken an early lead. In the fifth, his RBI single tied things. In the seventh, Foy hit a two-run single to give the Mets their first lead, and in the 10th, he hit a solo homer to push them ahead again.

The win sparked a late-July run that saw the Mets eventually -- albeit temporarily -- move into first place in the National League East.

5. : July 3, 1996, at Phillies
Shoutout to all the other cycles in Mets history, from Jim Hickman to Keith Hernandez, José Reyes and most recently Scott Hairston. There have been 10 in all, but Ochoa’s may have been most impressive. He’s the only Met to tack a fifth hit onto his cycle, adding a second double in the ninth inning. Ochoa also produced a pair of go-ahead hits in the game, including an RBI triple and a solo homer. One of the most promising Mets prospects of his generation, Ochoa never became the superstar five-tool player the organization believed he could be. But he did enjoy one of his best seasons in 1996, adding value on both sides of the ball and punctuating it with his memorable July 3 game in Philadelphia.

Eight years later, Ochoa hit for another cycle while playing for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat in both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball.