After shooting several games of pool in the Mets’ clubhouse, first baseman Pete Alonso sat down with MLB.com at Citi Field on Saturday and spoke on a wide range of topics, from the rise of the Mets to his car wreck earlier this season.
MLB.com: You are having a fantastic season in 2022. How does this season compare to your first year in the league when you hit a rookie-record 53 home runs?
Pete Alonso: I think this year is really special. We were in the playoff hunt [in 2019], but now we are in a pennant race. Individually, ‘19 was really special and monumental, but I feel this season is completely different because I think we have enough talent to win the World Series. We are obviously in position – if we do our jobs – to be able to win the division and go to the playoffs. … For me, it’s so exciting.
MLB.com: When I look at this team, it seems the players are having fun.
Alonso: We have a really good group of guys. Not like we haven’t had before, but this group specifically complements each other well. They are just fun to be around every single day. This year is probably the most fun I had coming to the yard every day.
MLB.com: All I hear is how manager Buck Showalter changed the culture. What does he mean to you?
Alonso: Buck has been great all year. He does a great job of putting guys in the best possible position. … He doesn’t just look at what’s on paper. What he does is, he does a really good job talking to the guys, really understanding what kind of mental state everybody is in. What may be the best matchup on paper, may not be the best matchup in reality. I feel he does a very good job of blending information that he has available and then also talking with guys. I think he has done a phenomenal job managing everybody all this year.
MLB.com: When it comes to you, Showalter seems to know when to push the right buttons. What I mean by that is, he seems to know when to put you as the designated hitter.
Alonso: I trust him. I trust his decisions. I mean, he is trying to win and so am I. Wherever I’m at in the lineup, I just want to do the best job I can every single day.
MLB.com: I think the Mets can go far in the postseason.
Alonso: One hundred percent. I think we have a chance to be the last one standing. We have to earn that right. We have to get to the postseason first. We have a really good shot to make it. But I think the potential is there. Sky's the limit for us.
MLB.com: Why do you think you can go far?
Alonso: Talent and chemistry. You have a bunch of guys pulling for each other in the clubhouse every day. Chemistry and talent, that usually equals success.
MLB.com: How anxious are you going to the postseason?
Alonso: I don’t think anxious is the right word. I would say, it’s something I’ve dreamt of as a kid, playing postseason baseball, competing and winning a championship. That’s why we all play. … But we are not there yet. We have a little ways to go. We have some people in our way. We want to capitalize on this moment. I’m really excited, but, again, I can’t really get too excited because that’s not reality yet. We have to focus on every single step before that.
MLB.com: You have that three-game series against the Braves toward the end of the season. How good are they?
Alonso: They are a great team, extremely talented. But right now, we really can’t think about them. … We play the Brewers, who have been playing really well. They have a great pitching staff and can score a lot of runs. They have an electric environment. They are [playing] just as hard as anyone else right now because they are fighting for a playoff spot. Right after that, we have to go through a couple of different time zones and play in Oakland.
The Braves are excellent, but no one should be taken lightly. We can’t look that far ahead. When we get [to Atlanta], it’s going to be a fun series because you have two great teams, highly talented teams. The Braves, it’s going to be a pretty hostile environment.
MLB.com: Is there a stat in the hitting and fielding categories you pay attention to the most?
Alonso: I don’t think there is one stat that really can give you that most important thing. I think it’s all-encompassing. You have to look at all the different things that kind of go into what a baseball player is. There are also a lot of things that aren't on the stat sheet like is the player going from first to third? You don’t see that stat. You see stolen bases. You see runs scored. But is he taking that extra base? Is he advancing on balls in the dirt? Is he taking that extra base? Even if you hit a deep fly ball to the outfield – guy is on second and no outs – you’re still advancing the runner instead of bunting. Are you playing the game within the game? Are you being smart defensively? There is a lot of gameplay that fully encompasses the season. Yeah, home runs are great. Hitting for average is great. There are a lot of things inside the game that you can’t really see on the back of a baseball card.
MLB.com: That’s the one thing I noticed about you, Pete. Ever since you’ve been in the league, I don’t hear you talk about home runs. You don’t brag about it.
Alonso: Home runs are accidents. I’m trying to hit a sharp line drive somewhere in the middle of the ballpark. Homers are just mistake pitches that I really put a good swing on. It just happens to go over the fence. I think to be consistent, you can’t really think about hitting home runs. For me, at least, I expose myself when I try and hit home runs or hit the ball 800 feet. The best thing for me is to stay within myself, swing at my pitch and try to hit a hard line drive somewhere.
Alonso: I’m doing great. Thank you for asking. Again, I’m really fortunate to be alive. I’m really fortunate that I’m able to do my job and play the game that I love. (After that car wreck), I was gathering myself. I was trying to make sure that my arms and legs were still working. It was really surreal.
I honestly didn’t know if things were going to be working after flipping over a couple of times. And to be able to walk out of that and not have substantial injuries is truly a blessing. I honestly feel I have multiple guardian angels. I’m really happy to compete and just play. I’m really happy to be here, not just for my teammates, but for my wife, my parents, brother and family as well. I’m happy I’m here.
It goes to show that anything can happen to anyone at any given day. For me, a lot of people’s lives could have changed just like that – my wife [Haley], my parents, my brother, all my family members, my teammates, coaching staff. Having me not be here, thinking about it, is weird. I don’t know what it would be like. I’m just happy that I’m healthy. I’m happy that I’m here. I’m just really blessed.
MLB.com: How do you get through it and play baseball?
Alonso: What else am I going to do? There’s no other choice. For me, the more I think about it … it’s not mentally suppressing. It’s just that the more I really thought over it, there is no other choice. If I were to just sit and dwell and be scared to live life, that’s not what the message should be. What I want is to show people, you can go through something and overcome it and still live with it.
Being in a life-and-death situation like that – I’m not trying to forget it. I know it’s there. It’s learning to live with it, live on and making the most of every single day and every single minute. Things can be taken away and living in fear, living timidly, it’s just not good. I want to bring some awareness to people who are distracted while driving. Turn your damn phone off. Just keep two hands on the wheel and just look at the road. You are not only being safe for yourself, you are being safe for others.