It wasn’t long ago that Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil were two of the most beloved members of the New York Mets. Back in 2019, the first full season for each of them, the pair represented the club in the All-Star Game.
Alonso has remained a fan favorite, recapturing anything he lost with his disappointing 2020 campaign. McNeil, meanwhile, has lost the trust of many. He struggled mightily in 2021 and has become one of the ball club’s top trade candidates. Unlike in the past when the idea of McNeil getting traded was discussed, fans have accepted it. He was just that unproductive last year.
Could the same quick switch happen with Alonso?
To some extent, Mets fans already did turn on Pete Alonso and it didn't last long
Fandom is fickle for some and after the 2020 season, we saw a preview of who would or wouldn’t turn on Alonso following a bad year.
The shortened season wasn’t kind to the defending home run champion. Although he continued to hit for power, his average dropped. So did his OBP. Everything was far less glorious than it was during his magical rookie campaign in 2019.
Dominic Smith was a different story. He had an MVP-caliber season for the Mets in 2020. The “Smith is a better fit for the Mets at first base than Alonso” bandwagon began to clear some space for more to hop on board.
Then came 2021. Alonso was good again and Smith regressed. Thoughts of Smith being better than Alonso crawled back into their social media holes with their single-digit number of followers and fake profile pictures.
Alonso is back in the good graces again. Smith is sitting right next to McNeil as a guy many are ready and willing to trade away.
The Polar Bear isn’t safe from returning, though. One thing could lead to fans losing faith in him all over again.
What could make Mets fans turn on Pete Alonso for good
McNeil stopped doing what he does best in 2021: hit for average. You could count on him to bat .300 or better in each of his first three seasons. This wasn’t the case in 2021. McNeil’s batting average dropped about 50 points from where we would expect it to be.
Alonso hasn’t nor will he ever likely hit for a high average. What makes him so valuable is his power bat. If the power evaporates, so will some loyalty.
Alonso went from hitting 53 home runs in 2019 to 37 in 2021. Including the 2020 season, his home run rate went from 7.7% to 6.7% to 5.8% per plate appearance. It’s actually a huge difference. What makes it a little more acceptable is just how much of an outlier the 2019 campaign probably was.
Expecting Alonso smash 50 home runs again is a big favor. It’s just not something that happens too often. He’ll probably reach 40 again. He may even have a year where he does get to the half-century mark.
Until his power stroke goes away, Alonso has value to the Mets. He’s their Big Al. He’s here to hit dingers.