Two of the brightest young New York Mets stars, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, are each involved in the National League MVP race.
One of the biggest differences between previous versions of the New York Mets and the 2019 team is the fact that the roster now boasts two elite hitters. The emergence of Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil have brought legitimacy to a traditionally poor Mets offense.
The team currently ranks 15th in total runs scored in 2019. While that may seem like an unimpressive statistic, it is a major upgrade for a team known for its pitching star power. The Mets’ offense finished 26th in runs in 2016, 19th in 2017, and 23rd in 2018.
The Mets Superstars
McNeil and Alonso give the batting order two players that every opposing pitcher they face will fear. McNeil has thrived in a super-utility role with the team this season. He sits atop the NL in batting average leaderboard and has a real chance to join Jose Reyes as the only Met players to win the NL batting title.
Alonso, on the other hand, has instantly become one of the most dangerous power hitters in MLB. The exciting rookie not only won his first Home Run Derby but also broke Daryl Strawberry’s Mets rookie home run record (a feat he accomplished in just 77 games!). Alonso now has his sights set on Aaron Judge’s all-time rookie home run record of 52.
These two amazing breakout campaigns have fan wondering whether either has a legitimate case for NL MVP this season. Let’s take a look at how they stack up against the frontrunners for the award:
Jeff McNeil: 392AB, 15 home runs, 54 RBI, .334 batting average, 4 stolen bases, 4.3 WAR.
Most of McNeil’s counting stats look fairly pedestrian at first glance. His home runs totals are considered low during a “juiced ball” era. His also offers very little in the speed department. However, McNeil has been an absolute hitting machine this season. While he lacks the power numbers of his competitors, no one has been better at putting the ball in play. He has also posted a perfect defensive fielding percentage while bouncing around the infield and outfield.
Pete Alonso: 422AB, 38 home runs, 85 RBI, .258 batting average, 1 stolen bases, 3.8 WAR.
If McNeil is a contender primarily due to his batting average, Alonso makes the list based on his pure power. His 38 home runs rank just one behind the MLB leaders. He also holds a solid .988 defensive fielding percentage at first base. If the Mets make the postseason after a disappointing 2018 season, Alonso will deserve a great deal of the credit for the team’s turnaround.
Christian Yelich: 397AB, 39 homer runs, 84 RBI, .310 batting average, 23 stolen bases, 6.0 WAR.
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The reigning NL MVL is certainly amongst the best again this season. Yelich currently sits alone atop the NL home runs leaderboard, while also boasting a .300+ BA. He brings combines the best skills of McNeil and Alonso, while also adding above-average baserunning.
The only potential hang-up to his chances to repeat as MVP is the state of the Brewers. Milwaukee is in contention for both the NL Central pennant and one of the two Wild Card spots. However, the number of surging teams in the league puts Yelich’s Brewers in danger of missing the postseason.
Cody Bellinger: 413AB, 38 home runs, 89 RBI, .317 batting average, 9 stolen bases, 7.6 WAR.
Bellinger’s outstanding season makes him a top contender for the award. He, like Yelich, is amongst the league leaders in both homers and hitting. While he has not been as big a threat on the basepaths as Yelich, he has been one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. He has also helped lead his Dodgers to the best record in the sport so far this season.
Ronald Acuna Jr. 487AB, 33 home runs, 80 RBI, .298 batting average, 28 stolen bases, 5.0 WAR.
Acuna has been one of the breakout stars of the season. While his exceptional play has been overlooked due to the counting stats posted by Yelich and Bellinger, Acuna is a legitimate MVP candidate in his own right. He has a real chance to join the 40 HR and 40 SB club while batting above .300. He has also been the best player on a Braves team that holds a commanding lead in a tough NL East.
While the importance to the play of McNeil and Alonso should not be underestimated, they are both longshots to in the NL MVP award this season. Sites like Vegas Odds and Fan Duel, like most oddsmakers, agree that Yelich and Bellinger are the top two contenders.
In all honesty, both of these players would have to suffer an injury or a go into a major slump in order for the Mets’ duo to have a chance at MVP honors. While McNeil brings the hitting and Alonso brings the power, neither can contend with the well-rounded nature of Yelich’s and Bellinger’s game. It would also be absolutely essential for the Mets to make the postseason in order for one of their guys to have a chance.
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However, while the MVP is likely out of reach, the Mets’ hitters do deserve to be in the conversation. Expect both players to receive votes for the award. In fact, if both players finish the season on a high note, they are both deserving of top 10 finishes.