Only 2 Mets have played full 162. Will that change in '22?
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Forty years ago, it was common to see Major League ballplayers appear in 162 games. Eight achieved the feat in 1982. Twelve more played in at least 160, while 47 players appeared in no fewer than 155 -- the equivalent of one week’s vacation over a six-month season.
In today’s game, that sort of thing doesn’t happen with anything close to the same frequency. Only two big leaguers (Marcus Semien and Whit Merrifield) appeared in all 162 games last season, while merely 29 played in at least 155 -- a 38.3% reduction from four decades ago. The reasons for this decrease are mostly anchored around modern concepts of injury prevention. Teams routinely give players scheduled days off work to rest their bodies over a six-month season.
Then again, a full 162 has always been rare in Queens; only Félix Millan in 1975 and John Olerud in 1999 have achieved the feat for the Mets.
If anyone has a chance to join that club in 2022, it’s Pete Alonso. During his rookie season, Alonso became the seventh player in franchise history to appear in 161 games. Since his debut, he’s played in 406 of a possible 420 games (97%). Alonso takes pride in his ability to be available every day, and he’s made his desire to continue doing so known to team management.
“If I’m not hurt, I want to be out there,” Alonso said. “They know exactly where I stand. I’m young. My body feels good. I’m available, and if I’m available, I want to be out there.”
While shortstop Francisco Lindor has also appeared in all 36 games for the Mets, he plays a more demanding defensive position and owns a lengthier recent injury history, both of which hinder his chances to maintain this pace. When asked, Lindor said he expects to rest once the Mets have their first long stretch without a team off-day. That essentially puts Alonso alone in his pursuit.
It’s worth noting that if the designated hitter had always existed in the National League, Alonso might have already achieved 162. While DH is a position that Alonso doesn’t prefer, the half-days of rest it provides put Mets trainers at ease. Beyond that, Alonso says he does “a really good job of listening to my body, giving it what it needs.” His checklist includes proper nutrition and sleep habits, as well as a recognition of when less might be more -- fewer swings in the batting cage if he’s tired, or fewer reps in the weight room.
After all, the goal is not only to play in 162 games, but to do so while remaining fresh for a couple dozen extra games in October.
“If we go all the way to the last week of the year, that’s an extra four or five weeks of ball,” Alonso said. “Yeah, 180, 185, whatever it is? That’s the goal.”