new york mets red sox
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Pete Alonso’s recent injury scare hammered home a simple fact: He is the National League’s most valuable player so far in 2022.

Not just because he has managed to keep the intercity debate for best player going with the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, either. Alonso has been sensational for the Mets, cementing himself as one of the best hitters in the game. While the NL has plenty of worthy candidates — stars like Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — Alonso deserves the nod at this early juncture.

Here’s why:

Power. This may be Alonso’s best power-hitting season yet. Which is saying something. The two-time Home Run Derby champion has clubbed 18 home runs and driven in 57 runs so far. Both lead the NL. He has a chance to match the 53 home runs he hit in 2019, which lead the majors.

Clutch hitting. Alonso has demonstrated an innate ability to deliver big hits in big spots. He has hit eight home runs in the seventh inning or later. And seven of his homers have come with the Mets either tied or trailing. His timely hitting in late and close situations was best exemplified with his walk-off two-run shot to down the Cardinals in 10 innings on May 19.

Averages rising. The baseball analytics crowd may be quick to look away from batting average and even on-base percentage. But Alonso’s numbers in both are at career bests. He’s batting .284 and getting on base at a .362 clip.

Team success. MVP is not necessarily a team award. But Alonso’s contributions to the best team in the NL have to be taken into account. The Mets have dominated the first two-plus months of the year without Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. And much of that is due to Alonso. Further strengthening this point: How lackluster the Mets’ lineup was when Alonso was injured. If the award truly goes to the most valuable player, Alonso has been that so far.