Sports Illustrated’s cover for its Sept. 6, 1999 issue featured John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez, and Robin Ventura of the New York Mets with the headline, “The Best Infield Ever?”
And while Tom Verducci’s cover story focused more on their defensive play and why they’d be worthy of such a title, what are they going to call the Mets’ infield in 2023?
The Mets’ coup of Carlos Correa early Wednesday morning has provided the franchise with one of the most impressive-looking infields we’ve ever seen on paper.
At first base, Pete Alonso became the first Mets player in franchise history to hit 40-plus home runs in more than one season, mashing 40 with an NL-leading 131 RBI in 2022. No player in Major League Baseball has hit more than Alonso’s 146 home runs since he entered the pros in 2019, posting a 162-game average of 45 round-trippers.
Jeff McNeil has second base where he should spend most of his time now as long as the Mets can find a suitable fourth outfielder to man a corner spot behind Mark Canha or Starling Marte. The 30-year-old is the reigning MLB batting champion having batted .326 last season with a career-high 174 hits and 39 doubles.
At shortstop, Francisco Lindor emerged from a difficult first year of his $341 million contract with the Mets to put together one of the best seasons in franchise history by a player at that position. He raised his batting average by 40 points to .270 in 2022 with 26 home runs and 107 RBI — the most ever by a Mets shortstop in a single season.
Then there is Correa, shifting to third base to play next to his friend in Lindor. The 28-year-old owns an .836 OPS with 162-game averages of 28 home runs and 101 RBI, but he’s never played in more than 153 games in a season, which came back in 2016 as a member of the Houston Astros.
Regardless, he’s one of the top left-side infielders in the game to add to an impressive-looking resume for the Mets.
Combine the four and you have 10 All-Star Game appearances, three Gold Gloves Awards, two Platinum Gloves (one from Lindor, one from Correa), and — to summarize — the top power-hitting first baseman in baseball alongside the reigning MLB batting champion.
To coronate them as anything is obviously premature and foolhardy, but on paper, this certainly looks like the most imposing infield in baseball.