Saturday, June 18, 2022

Pete Alonso Already One Of Mets' Greatest Hitters


Pete Alonso took a curtain call after his grand slam Friday night. @Mets Twitter.

When Pete Alonso hit a grand slam to give the Mets a 10-1 lead in the sixth inning Friday night, it certainly was a big moment in the game to cap off a seven-run inning, but as with most homers the Mets first baseman hits, there was some a historic nature to it.

It was Alonso's 125th career home run in 435 games, the second-quickest in Major League Baseball history to Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, who did it in 405 games. Alonso passed Yankee Aaron Judge, who did it in 447 games, on the list. (how lucky is New York to have both of these prodigious sluggers?)

Interestingly, of all those home runs, a lot of them majestic blasts, it was only the second grand slam of his career, and both have come this season.

Alonso's 125th home run came in his fourth season as a Met, which makes this all the more remarkable. He tied Lucas Duda for eighth on the franchise's all-time home run list, and Duda, who played first base also, took 760 games to hit that mark. Alonso is just seven behind Michael Conforto, who hit 132 in 757 games. Alonso's 312 career RBI places him tied for 25th with John Stearns, who took 809 games to reach that mark. Next on that list is John Miller, who had 338 RBI in 741 games, and above him in 23rd is Carlos Delgado, who had 339 RBI in 468 games, a similar pace to the one Alonso is on. The difference with Delgado, who also played first base, is that he came to the Mets after 12 years in Toronto, whereas the Polar Bear is doing this to open his career.

In addition to his massive power, Alonso is on pace to have the best overall season of his career at the plate, as he has become a professional hitter. That is certainly because of the influence Manager Buck Showalter has had on this offense, as the Mets have become known for getting on base, putting together long innings like the sixth on Friday night, where they sent 11 hitters to the plate, scored seven runs on four hits, two walks, and two hit batters. They also work counts like they never have before, wearing out pitchers, with plenty of inning where the opponent throws 30+ pitches.

Through Friday, Alonso has appeared in 65 games (50 at first base, and 15 as the designated hitter), and he is hitting a career-high .284 (69 hits in 243 at-bats), with 19 home runs, 63 RBI, 27 walks, and just 56 strikeouts (for a slugger like him, less than 1 K per game in this environment where strikeouts are more accepted is a great achievement). on-base percentage is .365, slugging is .556, which gives him an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .921. He also has only hit into five double plays this year, so he should come in under the 20 he hit into last season, proving the increased discipline he has at the plate.

Alonso's 63 RBI makes him the third Met to have 60-or-more RBI before the All-Star break in multiple seasons (the other instance was, of course, 2019 when he had 68 in the first half). The two other Mets to do it are not a surprise, as David Wright did it in 2006, 2008, and 2010, and Carlos Beltran did it in 2006 and 2008. Wright has the record for most RBI in the first half of a season with 74 in 2006. Alonso has nearly a month (the All-Star Game is on July 19 to get the 12 RBI to pass the former Mets third baseman.

The benchmark of Alonso's career is his 2019 Rookie of the Year campaign, and he is on pace to eclipse a lot of the numbers he racked up then. His on-base percentage this season is .365, which eclipses the .358 he had in 2019.  when he drew 72 walks for the whole season. A big paert of that is the 27 walks he has drawn this season, and since we're through roughly 40 percent of it, he should eclipse the 72 walks he had in 161 games in 2019. The stat he will likely match is hit-by-pitches, as he has seven this season, and he had 21 in 2019. 

In 2019, Alonso hit .260 (he's 24 points above that now), with 53 home runs (his 19 so far this season has him on pace for between 55-60 HR), and he had 120 RBI (with 63 now, he could have 150 RBI this season).

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