It seems second nature now that Pete Alonso would start the season on the big league club. The Mets were debating whether or not to let Pete start in Triple-A Syracuse until the ‘Super Two’ deadline passed, to give the team an extra year of control. The Mets bucked conventional wisdom by having him start the season at the Major League level, and that move paid off.
From Spring Training onward, Alonso never seemed overwhelmed by the jump in level, nor the extra scrutiny, nor the pressures of his newfound position on the team. Alonso adjusted in an almost preternatural way, and seemed, from day one, like this was where he was always meant to be.
The story with Alonso, of course, is his power. Alonso, now the all-time rookie home run king with 53 in his first season in the majors, has power that makes everyone around him take notice. Alonso was ninth in the majors with a .583 slugging percentage, 14th in barrels/PA%, and led all of baseball in home runs.
One of the underrated parts of Alonso’s game has been his offensive consistency. Five of the six months of the season, Alonso hit between eight and 11 home runs, with only July being a low outlier with 6. This, of course, doesn’t count his 23 home runs from his victorious turn in the Home Run Derby that month, either.
But for a player that was never really considered a solid defensive first baseman, Alonso silenced critics who were paying attention by playing a perfectly cromulent first base. He sometimes was overzealous on balls to his right, but that was more than balanced out by his solid target and picking skills at first base. With a little mental focus, Alonso could be an above-average first baseman which, given his offensive profile, would be quite a valuable combination.
But the part of Alonso’s game that was most evident from the moment he stepped into camp this spring was his personality. Always gracious with fans and press alike, Alonso’s enthusiasm, drive, and sense of fun was infectious from the start. He, almost from the start, gained the nickname of “Polar Bear,” and not embraced the nickname from jump. The fans and Alonso’s love story was just beginning, and it clicked with four letters: LFGM.
In a tweet on July 31, Alonso shared a message for Mets fans, and it acted as a rallying cry for the rest of the season:
The LFGM phrase spawned some great merch, but more importantly, it reinvigorated a fanbase that just needed a slight push. With Alonso’s surging home run chase, it softened the blow of the team failing to make the playoffs, and gave fans something to root as the season wore down.
His actions on September 11th, where he purchased commemorative cleats for his entire team to wear, further solidified him as a one of a kind player, able to do special things on and off the field.
The final weekend, when Alonso tied Aaron Judge’s record and then broke it, was some of the most engaged and exciting baseball of the season, and the fans absolutely fawned over him at every stop. If there was ever a doubt that Alonso was the face of the franchise in just one season, this weekend silenced all doubts.
While it won’t be official for another few weeks, it is all but decided that Alonso will be the Rookie of the Year in the National League. But more than that, the Mets have added an absolute superstar to their core of young players. If the Mets are smart, they’ll extend him right now, and ensure that Alonso, true to his word, will make New York home for a long, long time.