Pete Alonso could be the huge spark the New York Mets need to get them back on track.
Having Pete Alonso firing on all cylinders again is not so much of a spark as it is dynamite. After breaking the single-season HR record for rookies (and the New York Mets all-time record), the NL Rookie of the Year has gotten off to a slow start in 2020.
Before Tuesday’s 11-6 win over the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, Alonso was batting under .200 and had only two home runs all season, both moonshots to be fair. Two home runs in 18 games for a guy who hit 53 last season is not a stat he’d be happy with.
That may have been part of the problem, though, as he keeps swinging for the fences in every at-bat. Many times, he chases pitches way outside the strike zone, and that leads to frustrating strikeouts, as there have been 25 of them already this season.
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But Alonso changed all of that on Tuesday. For this game at least, he was sharp, had a good eye, and his power stayed with him as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a two-run HR.
He went yard by waiting patiently on a breaking ball, whereas earlier in the season he likely would’ve been way out in front of it. That wasn’t even the play that impressed me the most, though it did help blow the game open.
The 25-year-old’s ground-rule double in the 8th inning was the one that excited me the most. The reason is that Alonso took the first five pitches of the at-bat. You heard that right. For five pitches (in and around the strike zone), he did not swing.
Alonso worked the count to 3-2 and then fouled off two pitches before finding one he liked and driving it to deep right field. That type of patience and maturity is something we haven’t seen from him this season; he looked like Brandon Nimmo out there.
Much like the Mets offense, who has had a huge issue with runners in scoring positions the past week or two, Alonso broke out in a big way, and this could be a great sign for the rest of the season.
Even with Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis, the top-two Mets hitters so far this year, going 0-for-10, the team piled up 11 runs. Despite the exit of Yoenis Cespedes, there is still loads of offensive talent at the Mets, and this offense can break out at any time.
Alonso followed this game up with another positive performance against the Nationals on Wednesday, as the Mets cruised to an 8-2 win behind a Tomas Nido masterclass. The man dubbed “Pistol Pete” went 2-for-5 driving in and scoring a run, and his only strikeout was off a very questionable called third strike by a very inconsistent umpire.
The Amazin’s may have started off slowly this year, but judging by these two performances they seem to be finding their groove, and their No. 20 is a key piece of the puzzle.
The good thing is that it’s not too late to get going. Only about a quarter of the season has been played, and the NL East has seen struggles all across the board. The Nationals, Phillies, and Braves have also been inconsistent this season, and if the Marlins actually finish on top 2020 really will be the craziest year in history.
Alonso is a massive part of this Mets offense, and he is the face of this clubhouse along with Jacob DeGrom, so he will have an important say in how the season plays out from here.
If he can keep this momentum going and turn it into a hot streak, other hitters like Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Nimmo, and surprisingly Luis Guillorme can follow suit. This, combined with a better RISP stats, can definitely turn the season around.
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Even in his second season, Alonso is a leader. Right now, he needs to lead his team back into the playoff mix.