If the 2021 MLB offseason were to end today, the New York Mets would easily be one of the biggest winners. In his first season as the team’s owner, Steve Cohen has done exactly what he said he would – he is establishing the Amazins as a legitimate major market team. And Mets fans cannot wait to see what the team does in 2021.
Except it is not only the fans who are excited for the season to begin. It is the players too. Including none other than fan-favorite and star first baseman Pete Alonso.
This offseason, Cohen and the front office have worked to build this team around its young core and Alonso. They acquired one of the game’s best players in Francisco Lindor, amongst many other moves to become a potential World Series contender.
As Alonso mentions, he has taken a step back this offseason from being his usual vocal self. Coming off of a down year, the soon-to-be third-year pro is looking to bounce back in big fashion. After all, even in a down year, he was tied for seventh in the majors in home runs.
With baseball supposedly gearing up for a more traditional offseason, with spring training and a full 162-game season taking place, many players are set to benefit from the regular majors routine. Chances are that Alonso can be one of the many due to return to his usual form.
So, what might the 2021 season bring for Pete Alonso? Let’s take a look…
Alonso becomes the primary designated hitter for the Mets
During the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, MLB experimented with new rules to try to improve the game. Each rule change had different results, from the bullpen’s three batter minimum to the extra inning’s second base runner. Yet one of the most successful experiments of the season was the implementation of the designated hitter in the National League.
It was a move that had been pushed off for decades, that finally got the green light. After all, it had been around in the American League since 1973. With teams having to adjust to the move, the Mets were well adapted to begin with entering the season.
Entering the season, on paper, the Mets viewed Alonso, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Céspedes, Robinson Cano, and J.D. Davis as potential options. The team’s deep bench of hitters allowed them to use the designated hitter to incorporate better defenders into their everyday lineup, such as now former Met Andres Gimenez.
Now, Cespedes is gone. Cano is suspended, and Davis is currently slotted in as the team’s primary third baseman. Thus, leaving the designated hitter slot primarily between Dominic Smith and Alonso.
Yes, Alonso has been a much better defender in the majors than expected, but Smith is simply the more natural defender at first base. Alonso, with the power he possesses, must be in the lineup, and to be a designated hitter fits his bat perfectly.
Currently, it is still unknown as to whether the designated hitter slot will remain in the National League in 2021. However, there is a growing expectation that it will return this season. And with it, Alonso will play the majority of the year in the spot.