All-Star Alonso set to go for 3rd HR Derby crown

July 3rd, 2023

NEW YORK -- Mets first baseman is one of the premier sluggers in the Major Leagues. In fact, entering Sunday’s action against the Giants, Alonso is third in the Major Leagues in home runs (25) and leads the team on the team in RBIs (58).

It explains why Alonso was named to the National League squad for the 2023 All-Star Game, which will take place on July 11 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. This will be Alonso’s third appearance in the Midsummer Classic.

“It’s awesome. It’s a super high honor. I’m excited to represent the Mets in Seattle,” Alonso said.

Shortly after manager Buck Showalter gave Alonso the news about the invitation on Sunday afternoon, Alonso announced on ESPN during the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast that he will participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and go for his third crown. He is joining Randy Arozarena, Mookie Betts, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Julio Rodríguez on the list of sluggers who have said they will participate in the Derby so far.

“It’s a really fun event,” Alonso said. “The field is extremely talented. I think this is going to be a Derby that a lot of people are going to remember for a long time.”

This will be Alonso’s fourth Derby in his five years in the big leagues, winning the contest in 2019 and ‘21. Alonso has the chance to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only three-time winners.

Alonso’s mentor and baseball coach, Mike Friedlein, will pitch to Alonso at the Derby. When he was a teenager, Alonso promised that Friedlein would one day participate with him in such an event.

“When I was a kid, I made a promise to him when he was throwing me batting practice,” Alonso said. "It’s one of those things when you're a kid and you kind of daydream and wish something would happen. Now that it's here, I want to keep good on my promise. I’m really excited. I know Mike is excited, too.”

Showalter believes the news comes at the right time for Alonso, who had a bad month of June, going 10-for-66 (.152). He went 1-for-3 on Saturday, but made a key throwing error that allowed a run to score against the Giants.

“I hate to see good people beat themselves up,” Showalter said. “But I think it is good timing for him to be reminded how good of a player he is. I think he is one of the league leaders in unluckiness, so to speak. Pete is as real as it gets.”

In the first Derby in 2019, Alonso became the second rookie to win it since Aaron Judge in ‘17, and the first Met to be an outright winner of the contest by defeating Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the finals; Darryl Strawberry shared the title with Wally Joyner in 1986.

Two years later, Alonso defeated the Orioles’ Trey Mancini in the finals. He became the fourth player to win the Derby twice and the third to win back-to-back titles (All-Star festivities were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic). The last player to win Home Run Derby titles in consecutive years was Yoenis Cespedes in ‘13 and ‘14.

Alonso, 28, is playing his fifth MLB season, and he has already accomplished a lot. He ranks fifth on the Mets' all-time list in home runs with 171 and he's 12th in franchise history with 438 RBIs.

Last year, Alonso set a club record with 131 RBIs and became the first Met to record two 40-plus-homer seasons. Let’s not forget that he won the 2019 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, earning 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. That year, he set a rookie record, hitting 53 home runs.

“I’m super proud. As cool as it is, this game is not easy,” Alonso said. “It’s a really tough game. I’m just really happy to perform at a high level. It’s been really awesome to be able to perform, find success and be an All-Star three out of the last five years. It’s one of the high honors that I’m really proud of that I was able to accomplish in my career.”