Pete Alonso is going through his worst stretch of baseball since joining the New York Mets, but count him out at your own risk.
Pete Alonso is as bad as we’ve ever seen him in a New York Mets uniform right now. He’s struggling at the plate and frustration is starting to set in. The Mets are stumbling out of the gate and his major slump is a big reason for that.
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) August 3, 2020
The low-hanging fruit here would be to compare Alonso to Aaron Judge, who is on an absolute tear for the New York Yankees. That comparison will happen for as long as these two are the faces of New York baseball, but let’s save that for another day. Comparing anyone to Judge right now is unfair.
One thing we knew coming into the 2020 season was that there was no way Alonso could match his 2020 output. His 53 home runs set a rookie record and it truly was one of the most special seasons in New York baseball history. Period.
Even in a 162-game season, a regression was likely. As MLB pitchers adjust to Alonso, a sophomore slump, to some degree, was inevitable. One of the issues so far in this 60-game sprint is that it looks like Alonso is trying to hit 50 home runs. His manager, Luis Rojas, alluded to the fact that he’s pressing out there.
“He wants to do so much out there, and you know how much he cares,” Rojas said via the New York Post. “He’s been working really hard and he actually really looked good earlier in practice and everything, a little more calm, not a lot of moving parts, [then] not the same in the game. … He got out of the rhythm he had.”
Alonso simply doesn’t look comfortable at the plate. He’s 7-for-40 with one home run and three RBIs so far this season. His 15 strikeouts on the season put him in a tie with the Yoenis Cespedes for the team-lead, who recently gave the Mets an Irish goodbye for the ages.
Speaking of Cespedes, Alonso’s woes are exasperated by the fact that the rest of the Mets are struggling as well. Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo are all putting up impressive slash lines, but the Mets, as a whole, are failing to drive in runners when it counts.
The Mets are 19-for-94 with runners in scoring position and they’re leaving an average of 8.9 runners on base per game this season. Alonso, who is 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, is not the only culprit on the team, but he’s the guy that they expect to come through in those situations.
After all, he was one of the most clutch hitters in all of baseball in 2019. Per Baseball-Reference, in late and close games, Alonso compiled an OPS of .956. Late and close games are defined as games in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or at least the tying run on deck.
There’s also something to be said about the lack of fans in the stadiums this year. Alonso is a player who seems to feed off the energy of the crowd, good or bad. Mets fans embraced him with open arms last season and he returned the favor tenfold. Is this the source of his problems? No. It’s likely only a minor factor, but it’s not something to gloss over.
Well, let’s move from the bad to the good.
The good news is that Alonso, even in this shortened season, has plenty of time to turn things around. All he needs is for one good at-bat to turn into a good game. Take that good game and parlay it into a good series. Any kind of momentum to get himself going would be massive. He’s down, but certainly not out.
This is part of the game for young hitters. Once MLB pitchers make those initial adjustments, it’s on the hitter to re-adjust to the adjustments. Baseball is a cat-and-mouse game.
From a team perspective, the Mets are in a similar spot to Alonso. Their 3-7 record is a nightmarish start for a team that came into the 2020 season with World Series aspirations, but with the expanded postseason, all it takes is one good week of baseball to make a move back into contention.
Alonso, and by extension the Mets, are in a bad place right now, but count him out at your own risk.