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Alonso's 41st HR ties Mets' single-season record

Slugger has five weeks to challenge Judge's MLB rookie home run record (52)
@AnthonyDiComo
August 25, 2019

NEW YORK -- The bat model was a Dove Tail PA20, nicknamed “Haley’s Comet” as an ode to Pete Alonso’s fiancée. Alonso initially used it during his dramatic win over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the Home Run Derby last month. He brought it back Saturday for Players’ Weekend after breaking

NEW YORK -- The bat model was a Dove Tail PA20, nicknamed “Haley’s Comet” as an ode to Pete Alonso’s fiancée. Alonso initially used it during his dramatic win over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the Home Run Derby last month. He brought it back Saturday for Players’ Weekend after breaking a flashier model featuring his nickname, a polar bear.

The choice proved wise. Upon clubbing a Max Fried fastball to deep center field in the fifth inning Saturday, Alonso clutched “Haley’s Comet” with both hands as he hopped toward first base. Only once the ball began descending did Alonso chuck the bat toward a patch of grass in front of the Mets’ dugout, freeing his right hand to curl into a fist.

The home run was Alonso’s 41st, matching the Mets’ franchise record with more than five weeks still to play. In a season that has already exceeded all rational expectations for his first year, and that stands a strong chance of ending with a National League Rookie of the Year Award, Alonso added another piece of history to his profile.

With 41 homers, Alonso matched Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran, who have shared the Mets’ franchise mark since the latter hit his 41st in 2006. Alonso joined them in a 9-5 loss to the Braves at Citi Field; his homer briefly gave the Mets a 5-4 lead, though the Braves tied the game with a run in the sixth off starter Zack Wheeler.

Box score

“It’s nuts,” Alonso said of the milestone home run. “As soon as the ball left the bat, I just knew it. The fans went absolutely nuts. It’s something you dream about as a kid. It’s surreal.”

Earlier this year, Alonso gave Dove Tail a list of suggestions for bat art. One was “Haley’s Comet” to recognize Haley Walsh, who accepted Alonso’s marriage proposal last November. The bat features a red, yellow and blue flame design, along with an axe handle that has become the signature of both Alonso and teammate Jeff McNeil.

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Major League rules prevent players from using bats with flashy designs during the regular season, however, leaving Alonso with few chances to swing it. His first prominent opportunity surfaced during the Home Run Derby, which he won. The next came during Players’ Weekend, the three-game event in which hitters are encouraged to decorate their bats as much as they see fit. On Friday night, Alonso tried a bat featuring a roaring polar bear, but snapped it on his first swing of the night. He tried two other bats in that game, including a bright orange model, finishing 1-for-6 with three strikeouts.

Before Saturday’s game, Alonso hefted “Haley’s Comet” and decided to use it, saying afterward that “it just felt good in my hands today.” Sticking with his decision after a strikeout and a flyout, Alonso carried the bat to the plate against Fried in the fifth inning, took a ball outside, then crushed his three-run homer a projected 451 feet to center. As Alonso rounded the bases, an announced crowd of 38,300 roared its approval.

“I really don’t get chills much, but that gave me the chills a little bit,” Wheeler said. “The atmosphere and the timing of the home run and how big it was, the guy’s special. Hopefully, it can continue.”

If it does, Alonso still has an opportunity to achieve more. Next on his to-do list is sole possession of the Mets’ franchise record, which seems inevitable. After that, Alonso has at least an outside chance to break Aaron Judge’s rookie record of 52 home runs, set in 2017. Alonso is on pace to hit 51.

Saturday’s home run also gave Alonso 100 RBIs, making him just the fifth Mets player to reach that mark this century. He’s on track to surpass Mike Piazza’s franchise mark of 124 RBIs, which has stood for 20 years.

They’re lofty goals, but even if Alonso falls short of them, he still stands a strong chance of winning NL Rookie of the Year honors -- particularly with Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. likely done for the year. Alonso’s stiffest competition for that award is Braves pitcher Mike Soroka, who will only be able to do so much if Alonso, with 41 home runs and counting, keeps hitting.

“This is my life’s work,” Alonso said. “This is something that I’ve been striving for. I didn’t really have a Plan B. I just have to attribute it all to hard work, dedication, trusting myself, staying focused and putting on blinders to outside noise. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it couldn’t be more true.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.