Feb 4, 2016

1999 Wild Card Champion Mets Utility Player: Melvin Mora (1999-2000)

Melvin Mora was born on February 2, 1972 in Yaracuy Venezuela. The five foot eleven right hand hitting Mora, was signed by the Houston Astros in 1991. He would play in their minor league system until the New York Mets signed him as a free agent in 1999.

Mora was called up after hitting well at AAA Norfolk, debuting at short stop on May 30th in a game at Shea Stadium against the Arizona D-backs. He remained on the club being used as a pinch hitter but did not get his first hit until July 6th which was already his twentieth game. He got two hits that month & was sent back down to AA Norfolk on August 2nd. There he hit well again finishing his season with the Tides batting .303 with 8 HRs 18 stolen bases & 36 RBIs.

He returned to the Mets in September filling in the outfield and only batting .161 for the year with an RBI. He later said the most embarrassing moment he had in baseball was during his rookie year. He still didn't speak English too well & when Manager Bobby Valentine told him to go play left field, he went to second base. Post Season: Mora was lucky enough to make the post season roster, because Bobby Valentine had faith in him.

Post Season: In the NLDS against the Diamond Backs he got an at bat in Game #1, in the top of the 9th inning at Arizona, with the score tied 4-4. He drew a walk against Randy Johnson to load up the bases. Johnson was removed & Edgardo Alfonzo hit a grand slam HR sealing the Mets 8-4 victory. Mora would get two more pinch hit chances in the series going 0-1 with a walk, in three overall plate appearances.

In the NLCS he drew a pinch hit walk in Game #1 against the Braves in Atlanta. In Game #2 he replaced Rickey Henderson who got hurt in the 2nd inning,. In his first at bat he hit a solo HR off Kevin Millwood tying the game, although the Mets would go on to lose it 4-3. He played in centerfield in Game #3 at Shea Stadium and got two of the seven hits against Tom Glavine, who beat Al Leiter in a classic 1-0 pitchers duel.

In Game #4, Mora drew a pinch hit walk in the bottom of the 8th inning against Mike Remlinger. John Rocker was brought in the game, Roger Cedeno then stole third & Mora stole second base. Next, John Olerud followed with a single & brought home both runners. Mora represented the winning run as New York won it 3-2. In Game #5 at Shea Stadium, he went 0-6 with a walk, playing all three outfield positions. It was in this game, Robin Ventura hit his famous 15th inning grand slam single.

In Game #6 at Atlanta, he pinch hit for Orel Hershiser with the score tied 7-7 in the 8th inning, singled & drove in Benny Agbayani putting the Mets ahead 8-7. The Braves came back & in the 10th inning, Mora singled & stole a base off John Rocker, getting stranded at third base. Overall he played in all six games batting .429 (6-14) with a HR three runs scored two stolen bases & two RBIs, posting a .500 on base %. Bobby Valentines faith in Mora paid off.

In 2000 he began to develop into a solid player, as Bobby Valentine used him all around the field. He played as a defensive outfield replacement in the second game of the year at the Tokyo Dome in Japan against the Chicago Cubs. In his next game he got two hits & drew a walk against the Cubs as well. On April 20th he hit a walk off HR against Curt Leskanic, to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4. When Rey Ordonez went down for the year with an injury that June, Mora filled in at short stop until the end of July.

During the week of July 22nd he had an eight game hit streak, hitting three HRs including two in back to back games, driving in eight runs on the week on big Shea Home stand. He hit a big two run HR at Fenway Park in Boston during interleague play on July 14th helping the Mets to a 6-4 win while avoiding a sweep as the Sox took two of three.

Mora batted .260 with 6 HRs 13 doubles 30 RBIs and seven stolen bases through July 27th, but the Mets wanted a better defensive glove and a more experienced player for the pennant stretch. Mora was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran Mike Bordick who would only finish out the year in New York, then resign with the Orioles for 2001.

Mora went to Baltimore and hit over .290 the rest of the season with 2 HRs & 17 RBIs. Mora played mostly outfield the next three seasons but his versatility still made him valuable as a backup infielder. He developed into a fine hitter, hitting in 23 straight games in 2002, making two All Star teams (2003 & 2005) and hitting over .300 two straight seasons.

In 2004 he became the O’s main third baseman, leading the AL in on base percentage (.419) while batting .340 (second best in the league) scoring 111 runs (6th in the AL) . He hit a career high 27 HRs, for the first of two straight seasons with 41 doubles, 111 runs scored (6th in the league) with 104 RBIs. The next year was solid but nowhere near the same numbers he put up the previous season; .283 average 27 HRs 30 doubles 88 RBIs & a .348 on base %. He would hit the same average (.274) the next two seasons driving in 83 runs in 2006.

That same year he signed a three year deal with the Orioles with a no trade clause because he did not want to uproot his family’s home. Mora & his wife have six children; five of them (quintuplets) were born in 2001.

In 2008 he had another huge season, hitting 23 HRs with a matching career high 104 RBIs (7th in the AL) while batting .285. Mora is second All Time on the Orioles list of games played at third base behind Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. I

n a special 2009 ceremony, Brooks Robinson himself presented him with third base. After an off year in 2009 he was granted free agency & signed a one year deal with the Colorado Rockies.

In 2010 he batted .285 with 7 HRs 45 RBIs in the Rocky Mountains. At the end of the year he signed a contract with the Arizona D-Backs and was in the Opening Day lineup going hitless, scoring a run. His playing time was getting smaller with the emergence of Ryan Roberts & Mora batted .228 with no HRs & 16 RBIs through June 29th when he was released. Mora announced his retirement on December 29th, 2011.

In his 13 year career he batted .277 with 1503 hits 283 doubles 19 triples 171 HRs 75 RBIs 93 stolen bases & a .350 on base %.

As a third baseman (908 games- ten seasons) he posted a .961 fielding % which ranks 55th all time. He also spent six seasons (348 games) in the outfield .989% as well as playing at short stop (194 games) second base (48 games) & first base (27 games).

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