Alonso on '19 season: 'Most fun I've ever had'

October 25th, 2019

NEW YORK -- As far as feel-good stories go, Pete Alonso paced the 2019 Mets by a rather significant margin. Initially uncertain even to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster, Alonso did that and much, much more, finishing with a Major League rookie-record 53 home runs.

“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” Alonso said toward the end of the season. “It’s been extremely special. I will remember this season for the rest of my life. I mean, making the team out of camp and being able to be extremely successful, it’s been miraculous.”

As winter approaches, Alonso is now the most significant offensive building block on which the Mets can build. The team doesn’t necessarily need improvement from Alonso, even if areas still exist that he can polish. They simply need steady contributions from one of baseball’s best power hitters.

To that end, Alonso plans to remain the same person, the same player he’s always been -- a year of big league success behind him or not. Only by doing so does he believe he can continue to accomplish historic things for the Mets in 2020 and beyond.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Alonso said. “I feel like all the work has proven results, especially coming into this year. And I wouldn’t change a thing.”

What Went Right?

Pretty much everything. Alonso recorded his first hit on Opening Day and his first home run three days later, and he never really slowed his pace. Power was Alonso’s most obvious tool; he led the Majors in homers, ranked third in the National League in isolated power and sixth in slugging. But he also surprised the Mets in two significant ways: providing better-than-expected defense and off-the-charts leadership from a rookie.

Regarding the latter contribution, Alonso said: “I want to do my part and I just want to be accountable for my actions. I just want to help other people, I want to impact other people positively. I didn’t really say, ‘Hey, I want to be a leader.’ I just want to be myself and that’s about it. I just want to be Pete and help my teammates get better, and just try to be the best person and teammate I can every single day.”

What Went Wrong?

Alonso fell short of hitting 60 home runs.

In seriousness, Alonso was statistically below-average as both a defender and baserunner, despite his improvements at first base. He would like to continue evolving in both areas. Offensively, Alonso wants to reach base more frequently after ranking 44th in the Majors in that category.

Consider those quibbles for a player who should easily win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and finish in the top 10 in NL MVP voting.

Best Moment?

Needing one home run to match Aaron Judge’s rookie record, Alonso crushed it in the third-to-last game of the season. A night later, he blasted his record-breaking 53rd with his parents, fiancée and several friends in attendance at Citi Field. Alonso called it “surreal … almost like an out-of-body experience.”

2020 Outlook

There’s no reason to think Alonso, who is under team control for five more seasons and will make close to the league minimum for two of them, can’t continue to be one of the brightest young superstars in Major League Baseball. He is likely to hit second or third for the 2020 Mets, assuming an even larger leadership role as a second-year player. While it’s entirely possible Alonso’s numbers could dip in his second season, he’s already taking steps to guard against that. He figures to be one of MLB’s premier power hitters no matter what his home run total might be.

“I wanted to be able to show that Pete can help this team,” Alonso said of his 2019 goals. “So I did that and I just want to continue to do that. I want to continue to be a good ballplayer. The mission stays the same.”