NY Mets: What should they do with Pete Alonso when the DH comes?
Before the 2020 season, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said one goal for himself was to win a Gold Glove.
At the time, it seemed like a farfetched idea that Alonso, who ranked in just the 16th percentile in outs above average, could win the award for best fielding first baseman.
In the shortened 2020 season he was even worse, dropping all the way to the second percentile. Just 11 of the 244 qualified players ranked lower than Alonso, including Mets third baseman J.D. Davis and Mets’ first baseman, who played half of his games out of position in left field, Dominic Smith.
Alonso played about two-thirds of his games at first base in 2020 and spent the other third at DH, which was universal during the shortened season. This season though, there is no universal DH, so Alonso has had to be the Mets’ everyday first baseman. However, he actually hasn’t been bad. In fact, he’s been, dare I say, kind of … good?
With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire after this season, a universal DH could very well be coming for good as soon as next season.
If that happens, would moving Alonso to full-time DH be a waste for the Mets because of his improved defense?
Through June 6, Alonso ranks in the 62nd percentile in outs above average, a huge step up from 2020. He went from being worse than all qualified first basemen other than Jesus Aguilar to being rather middle of the pack. Sure, it’s not quite Gold Glove-caliber, but it’s one heck of a step forward in just one year. Who knows where he might end up if he keeps improving.
Even with that, he’s still been the obvious choice to move to DH if it becomes universal. The thought process makes sense because then the Mets would be able to move Smith to first base, who is as good if not better than Alonso at first, even with his improvements.
Smith’s a natural first baseman, and a slick-fielding one at that, who has to play left field because of Alonso. While he’s done an admirable job out there for someone in his situation, he’s just not an outfielder, plain and simple.
If the Mets were to move Alonso to DH, Smith to first, Brandon Nimmo to left, and then put a more natural center fielder in center, they could theoretically improve their defense at three different spots.
Another option is moving Smith to DH, which would still improve the outfield defense. They could even have Alonso and Smith split time between DH and first base, to keep both of them fresh in the field.
However, there is another way they could go. As mentioned earlier, third baseman J.D. Davis is one of the worst fielders in the league. However, he can hit, like seriously HIT. They could move Davis to DH full-time, as he’s probably the most well-suited person on the roster for that role. That way, the Mets keep his bat in the lineup every day while also putting someone at third who can really handle the hot corner.
In that situation, Alonso stays at first base as he continues his quest for a Gold Glove, and then the Mets just deal with Smith in the outfield.
Realistically, the Mets will probably do a rotation of sorts, with Alonso, Smith, and Davis all spending time at DH. Alonso will play a lot of games at first but have a decent chunk where he’s the DH so Smith can move to first. Smith will play some games in left and some at DH, and then Davis will DH the games when both Alonso and Smith play the field.
If the universal DH comes, and it probably will, the Mets are going to have to get creative with how they utilize it.
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Even though moving Alonso to DH full-time is tempting because of the options it opens up in the outfield, he’s too good of a defender to never play the field again.