In an otherwise putrid season for the Mets lineup, Pete Alonso’s consistent play has left him as an obvious choice for team offensive MVP.
Alonso will take a .258/.340/.512 slash line with 35 homers and 89 RBIs into Tuesday’s doubleheader against Miami at Citi Field, as the biggest producer for a team that failed to meet expectations and officially got eliminated from the postseason race — doomed to a losing record — last weekend.
Still in play is the possibility of a 40-homer season for Alonso, but even if he doesn’t hit another, he is happy with his year. Alonso’s homer total was tied for 11th in MLB as of Thursday.
“We’ll see what happens, but I am proud of my success and I feel like I have learned a lot personally and professionally this year,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of lessons I have kind of been able to take in stride and learn from, and I feel like going through this season individually, not just as a team, I feel I have learned a lot.”
The biggest lesson?
“The value of a singular run,” he said. “I know that sounds really stupid, but one singular run is just so incredibly valuable, and we have played so many extremely close ballgames, and I want to be as relentless as possible, but anything I can do to gain an edge. Whether it’s something I can do now or something I reflect on in the offseason, I want to be able to come with that and be relentless on whoever I am facing.”
Alonso’s closest brush with a pronounced slump this season occurred in May, when he tried to play through a right wrist sprain and ultimately landed on the injured list. Alonso finished the month with a .764 OPS. Since then, his monthly .OPS totals have been .861, .880, .884 and .923 (with four games still remaining in September).
In 2019, he established an MLB rookie record with 53 homers. He hit 16 in last year’s 60-game sprint (a 43-homer pace in a full season) but wasn’t happy with his drop in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.
This season, he was more focused on swinging at strikes, a commitment he believes he largely adhered to, despite a chase rate of 30.7 percent — which ranks only in the 24th percentile among MLB players, according to Statcast.
“The strikeouts have been down,” Alonso said. “My strikeout rate is still higher than I would like, but I think there has been a tremendous jump in development in that aspect. I feel like I have swung at a lot of quality pitches and hit a lot of balls hard and just want to continue to try to be the best version of myself.”
Brandon Nimmo has brought consistency to the lineup when he’s stayed on the field. But the center fielder also missed the equivalent of 2 ½ months with separate stints on the injured list. Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith head the list of underachievers that helped sink the Mets offensively.
“The special first year for Pete with the 53 homers and going through last year with all the talks that we had about his struggles or what he was learning in the second year … I think that helped him to be who he is right now,” manager Luis Rojas said. “I think firmly he is going to keep getting better. There’s a lot of special things to happen in his career for years to come.”
The 26-year-old Alonso said it’s a source of pride to have avoided a pronounced swoon this season.
“I take pride in being consistent,” he said. “I take pride in bringing what I have every single day, and I try to empty whatever I have onto the field, and I am really happy I was able to be consistent up to this point. We still have [seven] games left, and I want to be able to finish the mission.”