NY Mets: Pete Alonso is the one bright spot in 2021
Nothing has gone right for the New York Mets in 2021. There’s no use in rehashing it, it’s just known. Injuries, underperforming, more injuries, more underperforming — you get the gist.
Everything has gone wrong, and in the offseason there needs to be a serious re-evaluation of the roster from top to bottom, most of the entire lineup.
However, there is one person in that lineup who at the very least has lived up to expectations, and that is Pete Alonso.
Alonso has been the best hitter on the Mets this season, while also providing a more than serviceable glove at first base, something he hasn’t done in the past.
No, he hasn’t quite been the hitter he was his rookie season, but no reasonable fan should have expected him to hit 53 home runs every year. Besides, offense around the league has been down, so he’s still been a decently above-average hitter.
With 28 home runs, an .843 OPS and 129 OPS+ through Aug. 25, Alonso is playing like exactly the player he is, a slugger. The 28 home runs aren’t particularly impressive on the surface, especially compared to his rookie season, but it’s tied for second in the National League with Joey Votto and Max Muncy, only trailing Fernando Tatis Jr.
He has twice as many home runs as anyone else on the Mets, with Jonothan Villar’s 14 taking the silver medal. That statistic alone is just a perfect example of everything wrong with this Mets team. Yes, Alonso was always expected to lead the team in home runs, but not by this much and certainly not with Villar being the closest one to him.
He’s the team leader in OPS and OPS+ among qualifiers, as well as the leader in the vast majority of the counting stats like hits, runs scored, RBIs, doubles, total bases, and hit by pitches. He’s even tied for the team lead in triples thanks to Triples Alley out in San Francisco, with a whopping one three-bagger.
One of the only things he doesn’t lead the team in is walks, he’s two behind Brandon Nimmo and one behind Michael Conforto. He could easily take that crown too in just one game.
He leads all hitters in bWAR with 2.8, and he’s tied for second on the team with Marcus Stroman, only behind the superhuman Jacob deGrom.
His Statcast numbers make him look even better. As of Aug. 25, Alonso is in the top-20 percent in multiple metrics, including expected slugging (xSLG), barrel percentage, expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) and average exit velocity. He’s also still above average in stats like expected batting average (xBA), hard-hit percentage (which he misses being in the top-20 percent by a hair) and strikeout percentage. Yes, he’s still striking out a lot — but so is everyone in baseball, and he’s actually above average.
His chase rate still isn’t great and his walk percentage is a bit down from what it normally is, but no one’s perfect. Overall his numbers are a lot closer to what they were in 2019 than what they were in 2020, and that’s a very good sign.
Simply put, Alonso has held up his end of the bargain, and not one of his teammates who gets paid to swing the bat has done the same. He’s not at an MVP level and probably not even at an All-Star level right now, but he has blown away everyone else on the roster.
That’s not even it though. One of the main narratives surrounding Alonso is that he’s a detriment in the field, but this season he’s been far from it. In fact, he’s actually been a net-positive.
***Per Statcast’s outs above average leaderboard as of Aug. 25, Alonso is No. 15 among first basemen and in the 63rd percentile overall. That means defensively, he’s been above average this season. It’s a staggering improvement as well, as he was in the 12th percentile in OAA in 2019 and 2nd percentile in 2020. On fieldingbible.com’s defensive runs saved leaderboard he ranks similarly, coming in as the No. 12 first baseman with a plus-two DRS.
The season’s still going so things can change, perfectly evidenced by the fact he was actually in the 85th percentile in OAA a few days ago but must have had a rough few games to drop him down a bit. Who knows, he could bottom-out defensively over the final month, but so far, he’s been really solid.
As for his season as a whole, there’s room for him to go up, absolutely. If you ask him, he probably wouldn’t be happy with how he’s hit as a whole this season. After what we saw in 2019, what we’re seeing now is hopefully not the best version of Pete Alonso — but he’s still been good.
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At the end of the year when fans look back on this season, likely in disappointment, there will be plenty of places people will try to put the blame. Frankly, there will be plenty of places where it could probably justifiably land. Pete Alonso is not one of them.