Pete mashing like an MVP in middle of Mets' lineup

May 28th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Even in a game where the Mets' offense clicks on all cylinders, where they score in every way, don't overlook this: Pete Alonso is always the rock of their lineup. 

Alonso is mashing like an MVP. He had another monster game on Friday night, going 2-for-2 with a home run, a double and four RBIs as the Mets outlasted the Phillies, 8-6, in the series opener at Citi Field.

Alonso's long ball gave him a temporary share of the National League lead, with 12 (Mookie Betts re-took the lead later with his 13th). And he's leading the NL in RBIs by a mile, with 45. That's eight more than Trea Turner. It's also good enough to surpass José Ramírez (43) for the Major League lead.

Polar Bear Pete's 45 RBIs before Memorial Day are a Mets record. Bernard Gilkey had held the mark until Friday, with 44 RBIs before Memorial Day in 1996.

Alonso is leading the Majors with 12 multi-RBI games this year. He has five games with four-plus RBIs, making him one of only four players to do that in his team's first 47 games since 2000 -- Jason Giambi in 2000, Scott Rolen in 2004 and Carlos Lee in 2005 are the others. Those RBIs are a product of the team around Alonso and the hitter he is. Alonso has the supporting cast of a powerhouse division leader, and the bat of an All-Star slugger. 

"When he gets a hit and drives in a run, the first one, he's trying to get another one and he's trying to get another one," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's -- I don't want to say greedy -- but he never stops pushing."

Alonso is on a 162-game pace of 41 home runs and 155 RBIs. One hundred and fifty five! And he could play a full 162, too -- Alonso has played in all 47 of the Mets' games this season, and he has them at the 30-win mark, 7 1/2 games ahead of the Braves for first place in the NL East. The Mets have won 10 of the 11 games in which he's homered.

Having Alonso's big bat in the cleanup spot every day is so important to this Mets team -- that's where the Polar Bear has been for all 47 games, making No. 4 the only spot in New York's lineup to feature only one hitter all season.

While Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte are creating runs with their speed, stealing bases and scoring on shallow sac flies like they did in the first inning on Friday, Alonso is there. While Francisco Lindor and Mark Canha are coming up with clutch two-out, run-scoring hits like they both did on Friday, Alonso is there.

"That's the name of the game, just want to be as consistent as possible," Alonso said. "I'm an everyday guy, and because I'm an everyday player, I have to be consistent."

It's been this way since Alonso arrived in the big leagues. Since the start of 2019, he ranks first in the Majors with 118 home runs. He ranks third with 294 RBIs, behind only José Abreu and Rafael Devers. And he's played more games, 417, than anyone except Whit Merrifield, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcus Semien.

His opponents know how good he is. In the bottom of the sixth inning Friday, with the Mets ahead by two, Alonso came to the plate with two outs and a runner on third. The Phillies, having just seen him belt a two-run home run into the left-field seats and rip an RBI double to the right-field wall on an 0-2 count, intentionally walked him. The Citi Field crowd let them hear it.

The way the two extra-base hits unfolded in succession show you why Alonso has such gaudy RBI totals. When he's ahead in the count, like he was on the homer, he can look to drive the ball out of the park to his strong side, the pull side. When he's behind, like on the double, he can go the other way with enough authority to bring runners home from first. 

"I was watching the replay because I wanted to see it," Showalter said. "He had kind of shortened up and was trying to shoot the ball the other way … and the guy's so strong, he collides with the ball, it goes deep, and quickly. Guys that drive in runs do that with two strikes."