For years following David Wright‘s prime, the Mets were starved for a star position player. The 2015 team was stacked with young pitchers, but lacked a big bat outside of the temporary presence of Yoenis Cespedes. Even with the more recent arrival of talented players like Brandon Nimmo or Jeff McNeil, none quite held the national attention or natural leadership of Wright. That is, until Pete Alonso arrived on the scene in 2019.
Alonso burst onto the scene in 2019, snatching up the starting first base role and setting records along the way. In his first season in MLB, Alonso played in 161 games and accrued 693 PA to the tune of a .941 OPS. Alonso hit a league-leading 53 home runs, the most ever by a rookie. He also posted 5.5 wins above replacement, was named to the NL all-star team, and won the NL Rookie of the Year award. Most importantly though, Alonso’s personality shined through, winning the home run derby in dramatic fashion and starting the “#LFGM” tag during the Mets’ summer playoff push.
Juiced Ball Era
To be sure, Alonso’s 53 rookie home runs were certainly due in part to the changes MLB made to the baseball in 2019, allowing for record-setting home run totals. However, in 2020 and 2021, Alonso made it clear that he is a star, juiced ball or not. Despite apparent struggles in the pandemic shortened season, Alonso still managed to rank in the top 10 home run hitters, with an OPS of .817. In 2021, the first baseman again led the team with 37 home runs, OPS’ed .863, and continued to rank in the top 30% of the league by average exit velocity.
One of the most important features of Pete Alonso’s run with the Mets has been his ability to stay on the field. Particularly in an era where it seems injuries are more prevalent than ever, Alonso has been a much needed constant. Across his three years in MLB, he has played in 161, 57, and 152 games respectively. That’s 370 out of 384 possible games.
Defense, Defense, Defense
In 2019, once Alonso quickly proved he could mash big league pitching, critics turned to a different aspect of the game: his defense. Alonso’s defense never turned any heads in the minors, and it wasn’t pretty on his arrival in MLB. In 2019, Alonso posted -0.9 defensive WAR and was in the ninth percentile for Baseball Savant’s outs above average (OAA). Once the DH was introduced temporarily in 2020, many clamored for Alonso to be relegated to that spot. However, Pete refused to go down quietly. He made it clear that he wanted to make a difference on both sides of the ball.
Across the full 2021 season, his defense improved significantly. While still below average, he posted -0.4 dWAR. Remarkably though, according to OAA, he was in the 63rd percentile. Alonso went from one of the worst defensive first basemen in the league to the upper half in just two years.
Pay the Man
Somewhat under the radar, the Mets have developed a notable group of position players over the last five years, including Alonso, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil. However, the Mets have thus far failed to extend these players long-term. Conforto is currently a free agent and seems to be headed elsewhere. Nimmo will be a free agent after 2022, and there has been no news of any substantial talks. McNeil may be in limbo after a down 2021, but Alonso should be the team’s number one extension priority. He has made it abundantly clear that he is a great fit in Queens, and would welcome the idea of being a Met for life. Especially this early into his career, the Mets could very likely work out a deal that rewards Alonso for his production while also possibly getting a relative discount on his future services.
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