ATLANTA -- When Pete Alonso makes that kind of contact, he says, he doesn’t actually feel the bat meet the ball. The connection is pure, perfect.
“You get this weird sensation,” Alonso said. “I can’t really explain it. You just hear the sound, and it just goes.”
It happened for Alonso on his first career homer, a 444-foot blast last week at Marlins Park. And it happened again Thursday at SunTrust Park, in the seventh inning of the Mets’ 6-3 win over the Braves. Batting against reliever Jonny Venters, Alonso sent a ball rocketing off his bat on a line, over the fence and into a pond beyond the batter’s eye in straightaway center. The projected distance was 454 feet, the longest home run of Alonso’s young career. The exit velocity was 118.3 mph, the hardest in the Majors this year by far -- and the hardest by anyone not named Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
“To be in the same category as those two guys, it means a lot,” Alonso said. “They’re two of the most prolific power hitters in the game right now. To be up there with them, that’s really cool.”
In terms of cool factor, Alonso’s sixth home run of the season had plenty. When the ball landed, it made a splash that was visible from nearly everywhere in the park.
“You just don’t see stuff like that,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “It’s a line drive, and it goes in the fountain and you see a splash. That’s insane.”
At 118.3 mph off the bat, it was the league’s ninth-hardest-hit homer since Statcast began tracking, behind five from Stanton and three from Judge. Stanton holds the Statcast record with a 121.7-mph home run last season. When told of that, Alonso quipped that he has “to do a couple more pushups.”
The Mets would argue he is doing just fine as is. Through 12 games, Alonso leads Mets regulars with a .378 average, six home runs and 17 RBIs -- and the latter two categories are not particularly close. His 17 RBIs are tied for third-most by a player in his first 12 career games since 1920, when RBI became an official statistic. Alonso is also the eighth player since 1908 with at least six homers in his first 12 games.
“He does something special every night,” Callaway said. “When he’s at the plate, you feel like something’s going to happen. And something usually does.”
It is worth noting that if the Mets had declined to carry Alonso on their Opening Day roster due to service-time considerations, he would not be up in the Majors yet. Instead, he has blossomed into not only a National League Rookie of the Year favorite, but one of the game’s best hitters by any measurement -- distance, exit velocity or just plain value to his team.
“I’m really grateful,” Alonso said. “I’m just so happy to be here. I’ve just been so appreciative of everything. … I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunity.”