New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso takes his intense preparation to behind the dish as well, studying catchers.
New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso is known for his smooth swing, his laser beam home runs, and his intense mental preparation. He keeps a notebook of his at-bats and what he saw at the plate in a move that is pure Keith Hernandez.
While most pitchers study the opposing pitchers and their tendencies, Alonso takes it a step further. He told Mike Puma of the New York Post that he studies the opposing catcher as well as the opposing pitcher.
“It’s studying how the guy behind the dish calls the game. Each catcher, they do different things. They are all trying to do the same thing and get you out, but they kind of have a different way of doing it, whether it be different pitch sequencing or location, so it’s a matter of knowing not just the pitcher. It’s a combo of who is behind the dish and on the mound. Each catcher likes to utilize the pitcher a little bit differently. Obviously, every catcher wants to maximize every strength that the pitcher has out there, so it’s just a matter of how. I try to do the best I can and watching video preparation and that sort of stuff.”
The rookie has realized what it takes veteran hitters years sometimes to realize. The catcher is the guy making the calls and deciding the game plan. Knowing what he’s thinking is critical to know what the pitcher is going to do.
Alonso added, “I come to the park and I take pride in my prep work, not just doing video work, but getting in the cage and feeling right.”
He’s a player who takes a lot of pride in his preparation, and it has allowed him to adjust quickly to different things opposing pitchers have thrown at him. Manager Mickey Callaway has noticed.
“There was a time where they were just going underneath the zone, trying to get him to chase and he did for a couple of games and then he would go down and get one and hit a homer. Lately, it’s been trying to get him to chase up and he’ll do it on occasion, but he knows how to hit and understands what he did wrong the previous at-bat and usually makes a pretty good adjustment pretty quick.”
Callaway is clearly impressed with the 24-year-old’s acumen at the plate. He’s been able to force pitchers to give him balls to drive because he understands when they want him to chase.
Entering play on May 28, Alonso has 17 home runs, which has him nine shy of the club’s rookie record, held by Darryl Strawberry. He also has 39 RBI and is slashing .254/.332/.593. His .593 slugging percentage leads rookies with over 50 at-bats, and his .924 OPS is second amongst those same rookies.
He’s an early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, thanks in large part to his preparation and study habits. Those habits should make him an important part of the Mets lineup for at least the next five seasons.