Top 100 Mets: #90 - Jose Vizcaino

It would seem most odd indeed for any player with such a profile as this one's to make any teams top 100 list. The fact is, he has played for seven different teams in a fifteen-year career to date, often as a utility infielder, and never for more than three years at a stint. However, it just so happens that he acquired more at bats with one team than any other, and also played some of his best ball for that team. Thus it is that Jose Vizcaino is named # 90 on this listing of the top 100 Mets.

Jose Luis Vizcaino Pimental was signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in February or 1986. He accumulated only 61 at bats in his first two years as a Dodger before he was traded in December of 1990 to the Chicago Cubs for an inconsequential infielder, whose greatest legacy was being a waste of a second round draft pick. Just before the start of the 1994 season, Vizcaino was traded to the Mets for ill remembered pitcher Anthony Young.

In parts of the next three seasons (he was traded in mid season 1996), Vizcaino totaled 1286 at bats as a Met. He hit .281/.332/.355 as a Met, as opposed to his career line .272/.319/.345. The bulk of his value has always come from his glove, and for most of his time as a Met, his bat wasn't bad enough that he was a drag on the team. According to the stats at the Baseball Prospectus website, Vizcaino saved 18 runs more than an average player over his Mets tenure.

His time as a Met was not homogenous. In his first year, he was only average defensively and his bat was typical of Jose Vizcaino. Over the next 872 at bats, Vizcaino reached his peak offensively, and in those years he saved all 18 runs he was good for as a Met. His 1995 season is to this point his best overall season: His bat was close to average – three percent below, good enough that his defensive made him an overall plus. He saved 14 runs as nearly as the good people at Prospectus can determine (no better defensive statistic is available for this year). Put another way, his defense cut ten points off the Mets RA in 1995. In the 272 AB in 1996 before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, his bat was above average and he saved an additional four runs.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

1994

Mets

.256

410

105

3

33

47

1

33

62

.310

.324

1995

Mets

.287

509

146

3

56

66

8

35

76

.332

.365

1996

Mets

.303

363

110

1

32

47

9

28

58

.356

.377



This last trade was the first of two major trades Vizcaino was a part of. Vizcaino went along with Jeff Kent to the Cleveland Indians for formerly great second baseman Carlos Baerga and somebody named Alvaro Espinoza. Alas, Baerga in his 424 AB before the trade was clearly not the hitter he had been, and he never found that stroke again. Three and a half months later, Vizcaino was included in the deal that sent Kent to the San Francisco Giants and Matt Williams to the Indians.

Before he left the Mets, he did set one team record: in April of 1996 Vizcaino generated a base hit in nine consecutive at bats. John Olerud would later set an impressive mark for reaching base in consecutive plate appearances, which was supported largely because Olerud was a walk machine.

The final notable event in Vizcaino's career came in 2000. He took part in the World Series, but playing against the team that gave him the greatest percentage of his at bats. He had been traded in June from the Dodgers to the New York Yankees for former Yankee hero Jim Leyritz. He was entirely a bench player for the Yankees, and for them provided fewer at bats than for any other team. Yet it was for the Yankees that he reached the World Series for the only time.

Mets fans remember the first game of that World Series as the one that got away. Many have idly wondered how the series would have gone had the Mets closed out what seemed a victory in game 1.
Jose Vizcaino
Jose Vizcaino: The former Met delivered the World Series game-winning hit against them in 2000.
Yet it was a comeback win for the Yankees, and it was Vizcaino, who had been a very minor player for the Yankees, who played a role in winning that game for the Yankees.

This fateful game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Mets leading 3-2, and Armando Benitez came in to perform his duties as Mets closer. With one out, Paul O'Neill worked what is a very famous, or infamous, walk in New York. One batter later, a single by Vizcaino loaded the bases before Chuck Knoblauch tied the game with a sac fly. Three innings later, in the bottom of the twelfth inning, Turk Wendell took the hill for his first full inning after replacing Glendon Rusch with two outs in the eleventh. With one out, Tino Martinez singled and Jorge Posoada doubled. O'Neill was walked to load the bases, and after Luis Sojo popped out, it was Jose Vizcaino who beat the Mets with a single into left field.

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