For the first time since 2016, the Mets are headed back to the postseason. New York secured this opportunity with a road win against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. It was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between Max Scherzer and Corbin Burnes. First baseman Pete Alonso made sure that wasn’t the case with this three-run tank in the top of the fourth.
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) September 20, 2022
After adding yet another three-run homer on Tuesday night, Alonso’s season-long RBI total is at 121. That’s just three away from tying the Mets’ franchise record of 124, which is currently shared by David Wright (2008) and Mike Piazza (1999). The slugger is currently on an eight-game RBI streak. Unsurprisingly, the Mets are 6-2 during that span.
New York’s offense has dealt with bouts of inconsistency at times throughout the second half. A number of hitters are crucial to the club’s success at the dish, but is Alonso the straw that stirs the drink?
Alonso’s production in wins vs. losses
During the Mets’ four-game sweep of the Pirates last weekend, the SNY broadcast displayed a graphic highlighting the difference in Alonso’s production during wins and losses. As you can imagine, there was quite the contrast, which isn’t out of the ordinary for someone who is an everyday player like Alonso.
If you go down the list of important Mets hitters, there will be the same differences. Some examples include Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil. Of course, none of this is earth-shattering news. For a team to be beaten, the opposing squad has to limit the runs that are scored. This usually means keeping another team’s best hitters in check.
But when we look at some of the differences for Alonso, the change between his production in wins and losses is the most drastic.
When the Mets finish with a victory, Alonso usually plays a huge role. He’s slashing .319/.397/.621 with 51 extra-base hits (21 doubles, 30 homers), 107 RBI, and 67 runs scored in that situation. In losses, Alonso has struggled to a .168/.244/.298 line with just 11 extra-base hits (four doubles, seven homers), 14 RBI, and 17 runs scored.
Since New York is currently 40 games over .500, Alonso has obviously had more opportunities to rack up the counting stats in victories. However, the difference in his OPS during wins (1.018) and losses (.543) just jumps off the page.
He can’t do everything himself on offense, but it’s pretty clear. When Alonso is feeling good at the plate, it usually means the Mets are winning games. Why does it seem like he’s the most crucial part of manager Buck Showalter’s lineup?
Pete is the Mets’ one big bopper
New York has been blessed with two hitters that can anchor any batting order. Lindor in the three-hole and Alonso batting clean-up has been a winning combination for the Mets.
Lindor has provided his own fireworks and historical moments throughout 2022. If he gets hot down the stretch, he could be New York’s second player to slug 30 homers and collect 100 RBI this year. Even with that, though, Alonso is unique for the sole reason that he’s the Mets’ one true power threat in the lineup. This is something the franchise has rarely had in past years.
Since Alonso debuted in 2019, his 143 homers are the most in baseball. If we take out the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, Alonso has never finished a full season with fewer than 30 dingers.
In Mets history, there have been 36 different seasons of 30-plus homers. Only nine players have done it more than once and just five have done it three times (Darryl Strawberry, Dave Kingman, Howard Johnson, Piazza, and Alonso).
Among that group, Piazza is the lone slugger to do it more than three times (he did it four times). So if he notches at least another 30 homers in 2023, he’ll be in rare air when it comes to slugging tanks in a Mets uniform. With 121 RBI, he’s already the first player in franchise history with multiple seasons of 120-plus rib-eye steaks.
Mets need that power in October
The Mets have had a number of hitters who put together huge power numbers in a single season. Not many have done it as consistently as Pete, and by the time his tenure in Queens is complete, he could very easily re-write franchise record books.
But going back to 2022 and the road ahead for New York, Showalter needs to find ways to keep the Polar Bear warm and toasty at the plate. The Mets have a top-10 offense in baseball when looking at wRC+. However, they’re more middle of the pack regarding home run production.
The postseason will be full of dominant pitchers and lots of strategies to maximize bullpen usage. Stringing big rallies together likely won’t be as common. So, it’ll be helpful to have a big bopper in the middle of New York’s lineup that can change the entire complexion of a game with one swing.
The Mets have several players who can do that, but none of them do it in the way Alonso does.
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