With the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement, the designated hitter is expected to be introduced to the national league on a full-time permanent basis. This brings a dilemma for the New York Mets, what to do with Pete Alonso?
Ever since being called up to the big leagues, Alonso’s detractors have said he would be anywhere from an average at best first baseman, to even a defensive liability. With the DH full time in the National League, Alonso would be a prime candidate to DH for the Mets.
Alonso has stated he isn’t opposed to being a DH on occasion, but he doesn’t view himself as a full-time DH. Alonso isn’t the only DH option the Mets have on their roster for the 2022 season, Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano could also DH, if they are on the roster come opening day.
What has Alonso’s defense been like for the Mets?
Since being called up to start the season in 2019, Alonso has been the Mets everyday first baseman, with the exception of the shortened 2020 season in which Alonso and Smith rotated, with Alonso still getting more time at first.
While his rookie season wasn’t great defensively, Alonso’s defense has improved over his three-year career. Alonso was ranked 14th out of 16 qualified first basemen in 2019 with his .990 fielding percentage, while committing 12 errors.
His second full season in 2021, showed that Alonso’s defense has improved. Alonso committed only 10 errors, while improving his fielding percentage to .993. According to Statcast, Alonso’s outs above average ranked 13th out of 36 qualifying first basemen.
The Mets other first base option on the roster Smith, finished 2021 with a .981 fielding percentage, seeing only limited action at the position. Interestingly, Alonso and Smith each hold a .990 fielding percentage for their career at first base.
Other DH options for the Mets
As mentioned earlier, the Mets aren’t short on option to DH. The most likely candidate in my mind would be Robinson Cano. Cano will be 39 when the 2022 season begins and nobody knows what he has left in the tank, especially after being suspended for the entire 2021 season.
In the shortened 2020 season, Cano notched a .316 batting average and a .544 slugging percentage. Had Cano kept those numbers over the course of a full season, they would have been among his career best.
Another option on the Mets roster to DH would be Dominic Smith. Smith, who is coming off a down year after his outstanding 2020 season, would be better suited to DH, than play in the outfield.
Smith has made great progress in his defense in the outfield last season, which helped him gain playing time. Having Smith DH, would allow the Mets to have a more natural outfield player in his spot, especially if the Mets add someone like Starling Marte or resign Michael Conforto.
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Having Alonso be the Mets first baseman, even with the DH in place, is the best option for the Amazins offense and defense.