NY Mets slugger Pete Alonso has a lot to prove in his junior year

Pete Alonso suffered through a sophomore slump in 2020. In his third year with the New York Mets, the club’s star first baseman has something to prove.

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso will play his third big league season in 2021. It’s his junior year, a time when many high school kids are studying for college exams, preparing for prom, and thinking about their future. This isn’t high school, though. This is Major League Baseball. In Alonso’s junior year, he has to do a lot more than he did in year number two.

The infamous sophomore slump seemed to bite Alonso hard in 2020. His batting average dropped 29 points, his OBP was down 32 points, and his slugging percentage took the biggest hit from .583 down to .490. I’m not sure any of us believed Alonso would keep pace with his awesome rookie season back in 2019.

However, it was reasonable enough to assume he’d at least come close.

It wasn’t all terrible for Alonso in 2020. He hit home runs and drove them in at a similar pace albeit somewhat lighter. The main difference was how many of his doubles evaporated. Although he hit 16 home runs in 239 plate appearances, the Polar Bear had only six two-base hits.

A lack of doubles isn’t going to ruin a player’s career. It can, however, punch the overall season numbers in the gut.

Last year, Alonso was the worst version of the type of player he can be. A true slugger that strikes out, pops home runs, and plays below-average defense, the big guy did all of these things well in his second year. This needs to change in year three. Alonso must correct those mistakes and become a better-rounded major leaguer.

Alonso could have the benefit of playing a lot of DH in 2021. While this does nothing for his defense, it should help him focus on what he does best: bash home runs.

Even if Alonso has high expectations of himself and would like to win a Gold Glove one day, it might not be in the cards. What’s best for the Mets is having their greatest lineup on the field. This goes both ways with offense and defense. Alonso’s skills at first base, while not horrendous, are still inferior when compared to what we typically see out of Dominic Smith.

There’s little doubt Alonso can remain a contributor in the lineup even if hitting .250 is a challenge and he continually breaks David Wright’s old single-season strikeout record. Alonso is a masher at the plate. One swing and the whole game can change.

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At his age and after what we saw in 2019, expectations are much higher. He’s not Lucas Duda or Ike Davis. Alonso is a guy who did it before and needs to do it again.