Late Nineties Mets Second Baseman: Carlos Baerga (1996-1998)

Carlos Obed Baerga was born November 4, 1968 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. The five foot eleven infielder, got signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Padres when he was 16 years old. Baerga was a top prospect soon getting traded along with Sandy Alomar Jr. & Chris James to the Cleveland Indians for Joe Carter.

He quickly was called up to the Indians after batting .380 in twelve games at AAA Colorado Springs. He began his career as a third baseman & short stop, making 14 errors in 89 games (.944%) in 1991.

By 1992 Baerga became Cleveland’s regular second baseman and would hit over .300 four straight seasons. He hit over 20 HRs and drove in over 100 runs two straight years as well (1992-1993).

Those stats made him the first second baseman since Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby to reach those offensive numbers. He made three All Star teams and was considered twice in the MVP voting. Baerga would also hit over 25 doubles seven straight seasons, bashing thirty plus twice.

In 1992 he hit .312 (6th in the AL) had 205 hits (second in the AL) & drove in 105 runs (tenth in the AL). He also hit 20 HRs, with 92 runs scored, 32 doubles & nine sac flies. At second base he led the league in put outs, assists & games played.

On April 8th 1993 he made history, becoming the first switch hitter to homer from each side of the plate in the same inning. It happened at home in Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, off the AL New York's club Steve Howe & Steve Farr.

That year he had career bests in batting average .321 (fifth in the AL) HRs (21) RBIs, 114 (sixth in the AL), & on base % (.355%). For the second year in a row he had 200 hits (second in the league).

In 1993 he also won a Silver Slugger Award & was one of the best all round second baseman in the AL. In his six and a half years in Cleveland he saw the team develop into the powerhouse unit they became in the mid 1990’s. In 1995 the Indians won 100 games finishing in first place for the first time since 1954. Baerga led the club in hits (175) & was tied for second on the club with Jim Thome in batting (.314) as well as third to Albert Belle & Thome in runs (92).

Post Season: In the 1995 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox he drove in a run & batted .286.

In the ALCS over the Seattle Mariners he batted .400 going 10-25, hitting a solo HR off Randy Johnson in the 4-0 Game #6 clincher sending the Indians to their first World Series in 41 years.

In the World Series against the Atlanta Braves he drove in four runs, with a pair of doubles batting just .192 (5-26). He made the last out of the World Series, flying out to Atlanta’s centerfielder Marquis Grissom wrapping up Tom Glavine's 1-0 shutout.

Overall he hit .292 in the 1995 post season with one HR and four RBIs.

Rumors & Drama  In Cleveland: By the 1996 seasons, there were rumors in Cleveland that Baerga was sleeping with Indians closer Jose Mesa’s wife. Reportedly Mesa told the Tribe one of the two of them had to go.

The front office chose to get rid of Baerga, after hitting .267 in 100 games, he was traded to the New York Mets along with Alavaro Espinoza in exchange for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino.

He was welcomed in New York and expected to do big things for an organization on the rise. He debuted on July 30th, as pinch hitter at Shea Stadium in the first game of a double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates, getting a base hit. For the remainder of the season he struggled hitting just .193 with two HRs & 11 RBIs in 26 games. At the end of August he went down with an injury that shut him down for two weeks.

He was the Met regular second baseman for 1997 but he wasn’t able to hit like he did in Cleveland. In April he only hit .188, but began May with a four hit day against the St. Louis Cardinals. On May 28th he hit his first HR, a two run shot off the Montreal Expos Pedro Martinez. He drove in four runs that day & three days later he had another four RBI day in a 10-3 Mets win over the Phillies.

On June 3rd he had an 8th inning game winning single off Pedro Martinez to beat the Expos 2-1. On June 24th he hit a HR against the Braves & then had a walk off base hit off Mark Wholers in a 6-5 Mets win.

On August 7th, he had a four hit day against the Rockies at Shea, hitting a HR & driving in four runs. That month a 12 of 15 game hit streak had him raise his average up to the .295 mark. In late August he hit a two run HR in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers & then the next day, drew a ninth inning walk with the bases loaded for a walk off win against the San Diego Padres.

That year the Mets finished third 88-74 in Bobby Valentine's first full season as manager. In his first full season with the Mets Baerga hit a solid .281 with 25 doubles 9 HRs 52 RBIs & a .311 on base %. It certainly wasn’t the All Star caliber hitting he had been doing a few seasons ago, along the shores of Lake Erie. At second base he made 14 errors at second, posting a .978 fielding percentage turning 88 double plays with Rey Ordonez up the middle.

In 1998 his fielding improved, making only nine errors in 144 games at second. On May 13th he hit a first inning three run HR leading the Mets to a 4-3 win over the Padres at San Diego. He had his best month in May, from May 20th into JUne he had an eight game hit streak, hitting four HRs driving in 11 runs. That week his hitting also helped spark a ten game Mets win streak.

On June 25th Baerga had a walk off RBI single against Armando Benitez, to beat the Baltimore Orioles at Shea Stadium 3-2. On July 24th he had a three hit day at Wrigley Field driving in a season high four RBIs, in a 7-3 Mets win.

After batting over .300 in June his average dropped off to .266 by the end of the year. He hit just 7 HRs with 27 doubles a .303 on base % and 53 RBIs. He led the team in pinch hits (6) and in sac flies (7) but the fans were not happy.

The Mets had expected more as they finished second going 88-74 for the second straight season, thier best finish in eight years. Baerga was let go to free agency for the 1999 season and signed with two teams getting released before signing with the San Diego Padres. The Mets moved Edgardo Alfonzo over to play second base & signed Robin Ventura for third base.

He finished his season back in Cleveland batting just .241. In 2000 he found himself playing baseball in Korea & then in the Independent League. He returned to MLB with the Boston Red Sox in 2002 where he made a good come back hitting .280 in 73 games. He then played utility roles with the Arizona Diamond Backs (2003-2004) & Washington Nationals (2005).

In his 14 season career Baerga hit an impressive .291 lifetime with 1583 hits 279 doubles 17 triples 731 runs scored a .332 on base % and 774 RBIs playing in 1630 games. At second base he played 1063 games with a .976 fielding % making 130 errors turning 759 double plays. In his three year Mets career he batted .267 with 283 hits 18 HRs 116 RBIs in 306 games played.

Retirement: On a personal note he is a born again Christian and converted former professional boxer friends of his; Alex Sanchez & Felix Trinidad.

Since his playing days Carlos has worked as an analyst on the ESPN Spanish despotes channel.

He is recognized by fans and fellow co-workers as "Carlos Obed".

Honors: Baerga threw out the first pitch of Game #2 of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland. as the Indians hosted the Chicago Cubs..


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