When it comes to writing about Pete Alonso, it is perhaps best to follow the advice of Kevin Malone from The Office: “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick”. So here goes. Pete Alonso hit baseball. Baseball go far. More of same in 2023.
End of story. Thanks for reading!
Okay, well, I’ll expand upon that a little for the purposes of this season preview, but that’s essentially been Alonso’s M.O. since joining the Mets. In four short years—one of which was actually shortened because of the pandemic—the slugging first baseman has amassed 146 home runs. That’s good for seventh on the franchise’s all-time home run list. Barring something truly catastrophic, he will finish the 2023 season in fifth, surpassing Carlos Beltran (149) and Dave Kingman (154), with an outside shot at catching Howard Johnson (192) with a season closely resembling his record-breaking rookie season. That would leave just Mike Piazza (220), David Wright (242), and Darryl Strawberry (252)—three franchise legends—in his path en route to the club’s all-time home run crown.
There’s no reason to think things will be any different for Alonso this season. Since his major league debut, Alonso has been defined by his majestic dingers, establishing himself as perhaps the most prolific home run hitter in the game today. In fact, his 146 long balls are more than any player since the start of 2019, nine more than Aaron Judge. In that time, he also became the first Met to win the Home Run Derby title outright—Strawberry tied for the crown in 1986—and only the third to win back-to-back derby titles (joining Ken Griffey Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes) before his reign ended last year.
Alonso’s 2022 season didn’t garner as much attention in the broader baseball landscape as his eye-opening rookie campaign, where he broke a single-season record for 53 home runs and won the Rookie of the Year award. However, his numbers weren’t that far off from his 2019 season. He hit 40 home runs, making him the first Met to register two 40-homer seasons while in orange and blue, and set a franchise record by driving in 131 runs. His .271 batting average was the highest of his career, and his .352 on-base percentage was six points off his 2019 mark. Similarly, he finished last year with a 143 wRC+ (144 in 2019) and a 4.0 fWAR (4.4 in 2019), which earned him his second career NL All Star nod and an eight-place finish in NL MVP voting.
Beyond the home runs, the numbers show that his all-around game is improving as well. His strikeout rate has dropped every season since his debut, from 26.4% in 2019 to 25.5% in 2020 to 19.9% in 2021 to 18.7% in 2022. Meanwhile, he drew a career-high 83 walks and intentional walks in 2022 and finished the year with a solid 9.8% BB%. He also hit fewer ground balls, finishing the year with a 36.2% GB%, the lowest of his career, while registering a 19.9% Line Drive Percentage (LD%), and a 43.9% Fly Ball Percentage (FB%), both the highest marks of his career in those categories. And numbers aside, he just appeared to be a more disciplined and patient hitter at the plate.
As we enter 2023, the biggest story surrounding Alonso is a potential extension. Alonso has been very adamant that he loves it here in New York, and it’s not just empty platitudes. He has given back to the community in many ways since his emergence, including donations to Tunnels for Towers and the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and starting The Alonso Foundation. I already made the case for an Alonso extension, so I won’t rehash my arguments, but in the wake of the team giving his good friend and World Baseball Classic teammate Jeff McNeil an extension, there’s reason to think an Alonso long-term deal could be a priority, if Alonso is interested in it as well. To date, there haven’t been any formal leaks on talks, so this may not be in the cards for this spring training, but it is likely on everyone’s radar.
Extension or not, Alonso will be a Met for the next two seasons, and has a chance to further cement his legacy in franchise history. That begins this year, when Alonso will anchor a strong lineup featuring McNeil, Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, and Brandon Nimmo. The team’s offense was a big reason why the team won 101 games last year, and there’s no reason to think things will be different this year. That begins and ends with Alonso, whose offensive contributions continue to carry the Mets.