Alonso finds way on base vs. careful pitchers

July 28th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Mets rookie is living up to his nickname “Polar Bear.” A polar bear is dangerous even when sleeping and likewise, the 24-year-old first baseman is dangerous even when he’s not crushing 474-foot home runs.

In the first half, Alonso slashed .280/.372/.634 on his way to being an All-Star, but he’s been quiet to start the second half, hitting .125/.306/.375 entering Sunday. The stat to notice here is his on-base percentage. At .306, it’s not far from the league average of .322. The underlying reason for this is that Alonso has done a good job of drawing walks in the Mets’ first 14 games of the second half. He’s walked 11 times, including six times during the team’s current homestand.

“Ever since the break, pitchers are being a little more careful with me,” Alonso said before Sunday’s game against the Pirates. “… If the hits aren’t falling and pitchers are being smarter with the way they pitch [to me], then I might as well take my walks and let [] hit me in.”

Cano, for the most part has done this, hitting .264 with five home runs and 10 RBIs since the All-Star break.

More importantly, Alonso isn’t worried.

“I haven’t been capitalizing the way I want to on some balls in the zone, but I still feel like I’ve hit the ball hard; some of them haven’t fallen for me,” Alonso said. “I feel I’ve done a really good job with staying disciplined in the zone.”

Advanced metrics are on Alonso’s side. His BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, since the break is .074 which is a long way from his first-half mark of .298. Additionally, according to FanGraphs, Alonso’s O-Swing and Z-Swing percentage (how often he swings at pitches outside (O) and inside (Z) of the strike zone) in the second half are 31.3% and 69.9%, respectively. Both are on par with his season averages (33.1/65.2).

So unfortunately for opposing Major League pitchers, it seems the question isn’t if the polar bear will wake up, it’s when.