New York Mets All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso has been a driving force for the team since arriving in the big leagues in 2019. The Polar Bear is entering his final year of arbitration before reaching free agency as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Known as a great power hitter since day one, many people don't value him as the good contact hitter he is. Every year he has improved his pitch recognition to lower his strikeout rate resulting in a better batting average every year. However, there is something Alonso needs to work on to become a better hitter.
Mets power hitter Pete Alonso needs to improve his chase rate
The chase rate or outside swing measures the proportion of pitches out of the zone the batter swings as. By studying the trends in chase rate with contact rates and pitches we can determine batter vulnerability.
Alonso's chase rate has increased from 30.5% in 2020 to a career-high 33.5% in 2022, putting Alonso in the bottom 20% of the league in this category. Also, his chase contact rate has changed drastically in the same period rising by 15 points.
His chase rate trend has been generated primarily by breaking balls that he misses 54.3% outside the strike zone. These swings and contacts outside the strike zone are more vulnerable to the slider to which he hit only .242 with a PutAway% of 23.0. The highest of all pitches received.
No matter how hard Alonso's contact is, high rates of swings outside the strike zone tend to generate slower hits that result in outs. As soon as Alonso can improve his vision and swing selection of breaking pitches off the plate, he will be able to further increase his batting average by generating no man's land hits.
In the case of Alonso, this is particularly important, considering that his HardHit% ranks in the top 25 in the league and his Barrel in the top 5. The greater the swing in the zone, the greater the probability of generating power hits that can increase his home runs and, therefore, more runs scored for the team.
Alonso has established himself as a top offensive hitter in MLB and shows significant improvements each year. However, his chase rate limits his potential to become the best offensive 1B in the league. As Alonso works on this vulnerability, we may see even more spectacular results in his swing and contact. Perhaps 2023 may be the best we've seen from the Polar Bear if it improves a bit in this category.