Roger Cedeno: 1999 N.L. Wild Card Champion Mets Outfielder (1999 / 2002-2004)

Roger Leandro Cedeno was born August 16, 1974 in Venezuela. The six foot one, switchhitter was signed out of high school in 1991 by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent.

The speedy Cedeno stole 40 bases in the Rookie League in 1992, followed up by a 28 stolen base year in 1993. At AAA Albuquerque in 1994 he stole 30 bases & hit .321 getting a call up to the Dodgers that season.

He was supposed to replace Bret Butler in centerfield, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Roger was back & forth to the minors over the next three seasons, batting .354 at AAA in 1997. He played four seasons in Los Angeles batting a best. 273 in 1997, while stealing only nine bases in 80 games. He saw more action in 1998 (105 games) but the Dodgers gave up on him after he batted just .242 with only eight steals.

In December 1998 he was traded along with Charles Johnson to the New York Mets for catcher Todd Hundley after the arrival of Mike Piazza in New York.

Mets Career: In New York, Cedeno became a big part of the Mets 1999 Wild Card season, helping them get to the NLCS. He also set a Mets single season stolen base mark at the time, with 66 steals. 

Cedeno debuted with the Mets in the second game of the season replacing Rickey Henderson in left field in the 6th inning of a 12-1 win against the Florida Marlins. In his first at bat, he singled then drove in a run later on a ground ball out. 

By early May he was hitting well enough to secure himself in the everyday lineup. He quickly reached the .300 mark & began to steal lots of bases. In Maay he stole 23 bases in in 26 attempts. He batted .344 that month & drew 19 walks as well posting a .455 on base %. That month in seven games he stole two or more bases. 

Four Steals in a Game: On May 14th, 1999, Cedeno stole four bases in a 7-3 win at Philadelphia. In the 1st inning he reached on an error then stole third base after he had advanced on a ground out. He would score on John Olerud’s HR. 

In the 5th inning Roger singled and stole second base, scoring on a John Olerud RBI hit. In the 7th inning Cedeno singled, then stole second & third bases soon scoring his third run of the game.

On May 17th, three days later he stole three bases in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. In the four-game series with the Brewers he stole six bases.

On May 30th he hit his first HR of the year, the only run of a 10-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

On June 7th in Tampa, Cedeno doubled to drive in Benny Agbayani in the top of the 10th inning, breaking a 7-7 tie, the run was the game winning hit.

On June 8th he hit a three run HR off Grame Lloyd in a 11-1 Mets blow out of the Blue Jays at Shea Stadium. He had two more multi-RBI games that month & drove in 11 runs for the month. For June he hit .347 with 26 more hits, three doubles & three HRs. 

In May & June combined he scored 38 runs for the Mets.

By the All Star break he was batting .332 as the Mets were 50-39 in second place five games back & second in the wild card race.

In his first game back from the break, he drove in three runs in a 8-7 win at Tampa. He stole two bases in that game & the next as well in a 9-7 Mets win.

Mets Single Season Stolen Base Mark:
 On August 10th, in the 8th inning of a 4-3 win over the Padres, Cedeno stole second base for his 58th steal of the year. It tied a Mets single season record held by Mookie Wilson (now the Mets first base coach) set in 1982. 

On August 30th, in the 2nd inning of a 17-1 Mets blow out of the Astros Cedeno stole third base for his 59th steal of the year breaking the Mets franchise single season record.

On September 3rd he had another multi-RBI game in Houston in a 9-5 Mets win. On September 11th, he drove in two runs with a double off the Dodgers Ismael Valdez in a 6--2 win. He collected hits in four of the five final regular season games. 

The Mets tied with the Cincinatti Reds at the end of the season & a one game tie breaker was played in Cincinnati. He collected a base hit in Al Leiter's 5-0 shut out.

Cedeno had a good year being a pleasant surprise for Bobby Valentine & the Mets. He batted a career best .313 with 66 stolen bases (second most in the NL) setting a Mets single season record. He also scored 90 runs with 23 doubles 4 triples 4 HRs & 36 RBIs. playing in 149 games, 127 in right field, posting a .987 fielding % and had nine outfield assists.

1999 Post Season: NLDS: In the NLDS against the Arizona Diamond backs Cedeno did not start the first three games but got into each game in the later innings. He came in as a pinch hitter replacing Benny Agbayani in Game #3 & drove in a run with a 6th inning single off Dan Plesac.

In Game #4 he hit a key sac fly that scored the game's tying run, setting the stage for Todd Pratt’s dramatic walk off HR. Overall Cedeno hit .286 (2-7) in the Series, as much of the playing time went to Rickey Henderson, Benny Agbayani, Shawon Dunston & Daryl Hamilton.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS he got two hits in the opener at Turner Field in the loss to the Atlanta Braves.  In Game #2 in the 2nd inning, he drove in Robin Ventura with an RBI single off Kevin Millwood. After not playing in Game #3, he had a big Game #4 at Shea Stadium getting three hits going 3-4.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, he led off with a base hit off John Smoltz & scored the tying run when John Olerud singled of John Rocker bringing in Cedeno & Melvin Mora in what was the game winning run of the 3-2 victory.

In Game #5 he came in to pinch run for Matt Franco in the 15th inning & scored what was the winning run-on Robin Ventura’s Grand Slam single.

He started Game #6 but was removed in the 6th inning after going 0-2 in the Mets loss ending the series. Overall Cedeno hit .500 going 6-12 with a double, two stolen bases and an RBI.

Traded: That December he had good trade value and the Mets used it, trading him along with Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros for Mike Hampton & Derek Bell. Hampton would be vital to the Mets effort in getting to the World Series that season.

Post Mets Career: In Houston, he played in only 74 games as he missed three months of action after breaking his hand while sliding into first base headfirst. Overall, he finished up hitting .283 with 25 stolen bases. That winter & Chris Holt were dealt to the Detroit Tigers in a six-player deal that brought Brad Ausmus & Nelson Cruz to Houston.

Cedeno spent one season with the Tigers batting .293 with 55 stolen bases (2nd most in the AL). In 2002 he returned to the Mets as a free agent, but his second stint in New York wasn’t as successful as his first.

Return to the Mets: The 2002 Mets were still under Bobby Valentine but most of the pennant winners were gone & the front office didn't make many improvements. The Mets would finish 5th in Valentines final season as manager. 

Roger began the year with two hits, a walk & an RBI on Opening Day, in the Mets 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. In May he had a ten-game hit streak but struggled all year, never hitting above .260.

Drama: In June, Cedeno got into a highly publicized argument with the struggling Roberto
Alomar. Apparently, it was teasing him about one of his old baseball cards.
Manager Bobby Valentine had to sit the two players down in a private meeting to straighten things out.

On September 19th he singled off the Cubs Will Cunnane in the bottom of the 9th inning driving in the game winning run. He also committed eight errors in the outfield, fourth most in the NL. 

DUI Drama: That off season he was arrested for driving under the influence in Bradenton Florida after he was stopped for erratic driving.

On the season Cedeno did steal 25 of 29 bases, but only batted .260 with 19 doubles 2 triples 7 HRs  41 RBIs & a .318 on base % with 65 runs scored. 

2003: That year he hit only .267 stealing 14 bases with 7 HRs & 37 RBIs but hit 25 doubles. Cedeno was once a popular player at Shea Stadium during the winning times, but now he heard the boos as he & the fifth-place team struggled. 

2004:  Cedeno became so unpopular that even in Spring Training he was hearing boos & worse
things shouted at him. He was finally traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Wilson Delgado by the start of the season.

Post Mets Career: In St. Louis he hit .265 playing in 95 games as a reserve outfielder for the NL Champs. 
2004 Post Season: In the NLCS against the Houston Astros he only batted .167 (1-6) but in Game #7 he singled in the 6th inning & scored the game’s tying run on Albert Pujol's double. Cedeno, he made four appearances in the World Series going 1-3. 

It was in this historic Series as the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918. Overall, he hit .265 that post season playing in 11 games.

In 2005 he was batting just .158 in June & was released. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2006 season. He showed up overweight and didn’t make the club.

Career Stats: In a ten-year career Cedeno batted .273 with 865 hits 127 doubles 32 triples 40 HRs 274 RBIs &478 runs scored. He stole 213 career bases with a .340 on base % & a .710 OPS in 1100 games played. In the outfield he posted a .976% with 31 assists.

Retirement: In 2016 he formed the Roger Cedeno Foundation in Aventura Florida to help support youth organizations in Venezuela.


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