Pete Alonso is different from most men to wear the New York Mets uniform. His homegrown power is unquestionably the best to develop in the farm system. Given enough time, he should crush every power record available.
First base is a position where you want a guy capable of smacking 30 home runs in his sleep. The Mets have had guys like this before. Carlos Delgado’s short time with the club was certainly a productive one. Even lesser home run hitters, like Keith Hernandez and John Olerud, were important in their own way with high batting averages and top-level defense. They also weren’t completely void of power either.
Whichever style of play you prefer, Alonso is changing the expectations. Many years, the team simply didn’t have enough at the position.
The Mets history at first base hasn’t always been so glamorous
Remember when Mike Marshall was the Opening Day starter at first base for the Mets in 1990? Dave Magadan would eventually take over a lot of the innings at the position but even he was limited, particularly in the power department.
Some of the guys who played first base for the Mets in the last 25 years are quite underwhelming. Doug Mientkiewicz, James Loney, Adrian Gonzalez, etc. all joined the organization well past their best days. Let’s not forget Mike Jacobs or Jason Phillips either.
Even the Ike Davis and Lucas Duda eras had their faults. The pair could mash home runs but they weren’t among the best sluggers in the league like Alonso is right now.
Getting the right first baseman on your team can be tricky. Throughout Mets history, the team has had to reach outside of the organization for a suitable option. They’ve gotten it to work in the instances where they were able to identify the right candidate on other teams. The trade for Hernandez solidified the position. The same was true when the team landed Olerud and then Delgado a few years later.
The last three seasons of Alonso have reasserted the importance of having your first baseman be the guy in your lineup to break slumps, untie games with one swing, and damage a relief pitcher’s ERA permanently. He might not be the greatest of all-time at the position even within the franchise (just yet), however, his mentality and leadership on the team stand out more than many other first basemen on the club in recent history.
Alonso doesn’t blend in with the core. He’s one of the rare rookies who were able to join the team and actually step up and become one of its many leaders almost immediately. Now only three seasons into his MLB career, Alonso has accomplished a lot already but has even more to do ahead of him.
Along with the way he plays, his ability to connect with fans and teammates turned the knob on the way we think about Mets first basemen.