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Pete Alonso

Will Pete Alonso join Howard Johnson on an exclusive Mets list this season?

Mets Pete Alonso hits a sacrifice fly against the Diamondbacks during baseball action at Citi Field
Mets Pete Alonso hits a sacrifice fly against the Diamondbacks during baseball action at Citi Field / Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News /
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The 1991 season was the only time when a New York Mets player led the league in RBI. The ever-so-lonely list of Mets RBI champions only includes the name Howard Johnson. That year, HoJo knocked in a National League-best 117.

Alonso is off to a fine pace this year to possibly join the short list. The 120 RBI he had in 2019 fell short by only 7 of a league-best. Anthony Rendon won the RBI title with 126 that year. The season prior, Javier Baez did so with 111.

Last year’s National League RBI leader, Adam Duvall, had 113 runs batted in. A complete repeat of his run production from 2019 will do it for Alonso. An improved Mets lineup with some wonderful OBP-centric players batting ahead of him may be enough.

The factors that will help Mets first baseman Pete Alonso secure more RBI

Adding the DH to the National League will undoubtedly increase the numbers of runs scored this season. It’ll also, ironically enough, slow down the game because of the extra offense. What is Rob Manfred thinking?

Whether Alonso is hitting third or fourth won’t matter much. The presence of a non-pitcher hitting in the ninth spot regularly should at least turn over the lineup a little more often than not. Even if it is one of the weaker-hitting Mets catchers at the bottom of the order, we can probably expect them to reach base on a more regular basis than most Mets pitchers.

This isn’t a tremendous advantage for Alonso because it’s one the rest of the league has. The real key will be how the players in front of him in the order perform.

In the early part of 2022, Alonso has Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Jeff McNeil, and Francisco Lindor batting in front of him regularly. All capable of being good OBP guys, an improved performance from Lindor will be the real key to Alonso getting bonus RBI opportunities. Of course, he’ll have to leave some runners on base for Alonso to drive in.

Another 120 RBI performance from Alonso may be more than enough to capture the title. Since 2010, there have been five seasons (excluding 2020) when the National League leader was below 120. The days of players reaching 130 or more are rare. Even in the American League where offense has regularly been better, only J.D. Martinez in 2018 reached 130 RBI post-2013.

Alonso is an RBI machine and more than capable of leading the league in this category. Like all statistics, the first step is staying healthy. A few starts at the DH spot each week can go a long way toward getting him off his feet and limiting the number of chances at the Polar Bear going down.

Will we see another RBI title for a Mets player in 2022? If anyone’s going to do it, Alonso looks like the guy.

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