The Mets won on Wednesday. Again. They have now won 13 of their last 14 games and they are easily the hottest team in baseball. Rookie sensation Pete Alonso homered in New York’s latest triumph, marking the third straight game he went deep.
That was Alonso’s 37th home run of the season. He’s nearing history. He knows it, too. At the All-Star Game last month, I went to ask Alonso if he knew what the Mets’ franchise home run record was.
“Forty one!” he said emphatically before I even finished the question. “Not that I’m counting,” he added sarcastically with a smile.
I followed up, asking if that was a goal at this point.
“Yes, I want it,” he said.
It was so refreshing.
You see, nearly all baseball players know their numbers, but they sometimes claim they don’t. Every once in a while I’ll get a player to admit he was looking, like Cody Bellinger saying he noticed he was hitting over .400 for a while. For the most part, you get a bunch of in-a-can “Oh, I don’t pay attention to numbers” answers.
I loved that Alonso just owned the fact that he really wanted to set the franchise record. Why wouldn’t he? It’s not like it’s selfish. Home runs help teams win. His biggest value to the team is his power, so every home run helps.
He’s now four home runs away from tying the Mets’ franchise record. As he said, it’s 41. Todd Hundley hit 41 in 1996 and Carlos Beltran tied that mark a decade later. It’s a bit low for a franchise record, but Alonso is likely to crush it. He’s on pace to hit 52 and we’ve seen him hit them in bunches.
In looking back to the last season, Alonso’s journey is a fun one. He started 2018 in Double-A, unranked in any mainstream top 100 prospect rankings. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he would hit 36 homers in 132 games, earning a ticket to the Arizona Fall League, where he impressed.
“I saw some of the balls he crushed in the Arizona Fall League,” said a major-league scout. “I wasn’t sure how it would play on a consistent level at the major league, but he sure has made an impact being a middle of the order bat.”
He surged up prospect rankings, hitting 48 in Baseball America, 51 on MLB.com and 40 at Baseball Prospectus.
All through the spring, the speculative consensus was that the Mets would pull a Kris Bryant (or Ronald Acuna, or Vladimir Guerrero Jr., etc.) and make Alonso wait a few weeks in the minors in order to manipulate his service time.
Instead, the Mets brought Alonso from camp with them and it’s paid off in a major way. He’s been a fixture in the middle of the order and is hitting .260/.364/.595 with the 37 homers and 83 RBI. The franchise record for RBI is 124 (David Wright in 2008 and Mike Piazza in 1999), by the way, so it’s entirely plausible that Alonso finishes his rookie year with a pair of franchise records.
That’s downright amazing for a guy who wasn’t even considered a top prospect entering last season. This is a franchise that has seen sluggers like Piazza, Beltran, Darryl Strawberry and Carlos Delgado.
Oh, and Alonso was an All-Star and. He took home $1 million for it.
“The only thing I can truly say is I’m living in a fantasy,” he told me. “It’s been so special. It’s all been incredible. I just feel so blessed.”
At the rate things are going, it looks like there are going to be more chapters added to his fantasy story. Mets records are gonna be falling and they are playing well enough to dream of a run to the playoffs despite having been 40-51 just a few weeks ago. What a wild ride.