Favorite Under the Radar Mets: T.J. Rivera


How many times do you see a .304 career hitter out of baseball after two seasons? That was the case with former New York Mets, T.J. Rivera, who had a real underdog story to get himself to the big leagues in the first place. He was a local kid, born in the Bronx, who ground through the minors to get to the show.

Rivera spent six seasons in the Mets minor league system but had a .321 career average in the minors. He hit at every stop along his way through the minors. Rivera was a pure contact hitter who only had one season where he put up double-digit home runs. He was much like Jeff McNeil, did not walk frequently but consistently put the ball in play.

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Rivera made his Major League debut in 2017 and was thrown right into the Mets wild card hunt. He started shaky but took off during the final month of the season. He hit .358/.378/.552 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. The hot streak was strong enough to earn him the start at second base against in the wild card game. Rivera recorded one of the four hits in the Madison Bumgarner shutout.

His throwing had become a significant issue in 2017, which caused him to get Tommy John Surgery. He hit .290 on the season before the Mets had to shut him down. He missed all off 2018, except for some rehab games, but he expected to return for 2019. Rivera, unfortunately, suffered a setback during 2019’s Spring Training, and the Mets immediately released him in what was a surprising move considering his hitting ability.

He latched on with the Nationals and then ended up in independent ball with the Long Island Ducks. Rivera played in two different winter leagues, which earned him a chance to make the Phillies roster. Rivera had a quick bat, and he had power in it when he decided to display it. Despite the home run boom in baseball, Rivera is still a line-drive hitter, and it will be interesting to see if his second journey to the big leagues is as successful as his first one.

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