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T.J. Rivera - New York Mets (

T.J. Rivera – New York Mets (

When I look at New York Mets utility man T.J. Rivera, I don’t only see the face of a young Alex Rodriguez, but I also see the luscious orange locks that flow beneath his helmet and baseball cap… Okay, admittedly I don’t exactly see the orange hair, it’s more of a dark brown on the side that finishes with a bundle of blonde highlights on top. Regardless of the hair, there are striking resemblances that can be seen between a young Justin Turner, who was vying for playing time on bad Met teams and T.J. Rivera, who’s the super utility man on the currently better team from Queens.

Neither of these two guys were particularly highly touted coming out of their respective colleges (Justin Turner, Cal State Fullerton. T.J. Rivera, Troy), yet both were versatile and played the game the right way. The label of “Baseball Player” is never a bad thing and something that gets lost in our day and age with guys who have unnatural power, speed and overall ability. However, far too often organizations mainly seem to focus on the guys who JUMP off the page at you, while the well-rounded smart, savvy baseball players go unnoticed. These are the glue guys, the guys that hold an organization together, can play multiple positions and become invaluable to a teams success.

Justin Turner is the prime example of a “Baseball Player”; he embodies heart, hustle, instincts and a resolve to not let an opportunity go to waste. I see the same characteristics in a 28-year-old T.J. Rivera, who’s getting an opportunity a little bit later than Turner did in his career.

Turner played three and a half years for the New York Mets (from 2010 to 2013) and the California kid was never given a real shot to play everyday. In 2011, Turner got his most extensive playing time with the team. He played in 117 games and had 435 at-bats, producing a .260 average, .334 OBP, 30 doubles and 51 RBI’s. I would consider that pretty productive! However, the next two seasons he didn’t even accumulate 400 at-bats. Turner still hit .269 and .280 respectfully in a limited time. After that, the Mets let him walk cross-country to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he’s flourished.

T.J. Rivera hasn’t been around all that long and came around a little later than Turner did with the Mets. Even in the Minor Leagues, Rivera has hit everywhere he’s been and in his short Major League stint last season. He wasn’t a highly touted prospect at any point for the Mets but he made the organization pay attention to him by continuing to just hit and hit and hit until the injury bug bit last season.

Finally, he was awarded an opportunity to come up to the Majors. He hit .333 in 105 at-bats last season. Again, this season the injury bug has taken a chomp at the New York position players and again it’s T.J. Rivera who’s answering the call.

As I mentioned earlier, I see a lot of Justin Turner in T.J. Rivera, not the physical appearance so much but in the similar way they play the game. Neither guy does anything exceptionally well but they’re gamers; they can hit, they’re very versatile and are very valuable to an organization. Now, we just have to hope that the Mets don’t mess anything up and give young T.J. a shot to become what Justin Turner has become for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Greg is a Staff Writer here at, covering a variety of topics.
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