Alonso part of a rare rookie HR club
Pete Alonso already has more home runs than any National League rookie ever, and now he’s set another record that has nothing to do with one’s tenure in the league. With an opposite-field homer off the Cubs' Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Citi Field, Alonso set a new Mets single-season record. It was his 42nd home run of the season, breaking the record held by Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltrán (2006). He's now on a short list of rookies to set their respective teams' franchise single-season home run record.
No rookie had done it since Johnny Rizzo in 1938 for the Pirates. That’s right, the last rookie to set a franchise single-season home run record was more than 80 years ago. No other rookie currently holds a franchise’s home run record for a season, so each of these former rookies' records went on to get broken -- which stands to reason, given that they’re all from 1938 and before.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that since all of these other instances happened in 1938 and before, none of these players were eligible to receive the Rookie of the Year Award, which was first awarded in 1947.
Here are the rookies before Alonso to set their franchise’s home run record in the Modern Era (since 1900).
2019: Pete Alonso -- Mets, set record at 42 HR on Aug. 27
Alonso made the team out of Spring Training and introduced himself to the Majors in a big way in his fourth career game, when he went yard on April 1 in Miami. He went on to hit nine homers in April, tying the Mets' record for a single April. As the season has worn on, he surpassed the club's rookie record for homers (previously 26 by Darryl Strawberry), and then the National League rookie record, too (previously 39 by Cody Bellinger). On Aug. 27, he took possession of the Mets' all-time single-season record, regardless of tenure.
1938: Johnny Rizzo -- Pirates, 23 HR
Rizzo debuted in April 1938 at the ripe age of 25 and proceeded to put up a home run total that hadn't been seen in Pittsburgh to that point. Rizzo hit 23 homers, despite not hitting one until his 22nd game on May 15. His 20th home run of the year broke the franchise’s single-season record of 19, which had been set by Arky Vaughan in 1935. Rizzo’s total of 23 would stand alone until 1946, when Ralph Kiner -- in his rookie year -- tied it. The next season, Kiner hit 51 and Hank Greenberg hit 25, both of which surpassed the franchise record.
1934: Hal Trosky -- Indians, 35 HR
Trosky debuted in September 1933 but was still a rookie in 1934, as a 21-year-old. He hit 35 home runs, breaking the previous franchise single-season record of 32, set by Earl Averill in 1931 and tied by Averill in 1932 -- more on Averill later on. It was a strong rookie season across the board, as he hit .330 with a .598 slugging percentage en route to those 35 homers and 142 RBIs. Trosky’s record would be broken in 1936 by none other than Trosky himself, who hit 42 home runs that season.
1934: Zeke Bonura -- White Sox, 27 HR
When Bonura debuted in 1934, the White Sox single-season home run record was 22, set by Carl Reynolds in 1930. Bonura surpassed that, and then some, hitting 27 in his rookie year as a 25-year-old in 1934. Joe Kuhel tied the franchise record in 1940 with 27 of his own, but Bonura retained at least partial possession of the franchise record until 1950. That’s when Gus Zernial hit 29 to surpass Bonura and Kuhel’s mark.
1930: Wally Berger -- Braves, 38 HR
Berger got off to a fast start in his rookie season in 1930, hitting 38 homers in 151 games. He went on to play 11 years total in the Majors, but never again matched that rookie season total. He also set the Braves’ franchise record that year, and did so quite handily. The prior franchise record had been 21 homers by Rogers Hornsby in 1928. Berger’s record stood until 1953, when Eddie Mathews hit 47.
1929: Dale Alexander -- Tigers, 25 HR
Alexander knocked 25 homers as a rookie in 1929, setting not only a franchise single-season record, but also a mark that would ultimately be a career high as well. Prior to 1929, the Tigers’ single-season franchise record was 21 homers, by Harry Heilmann in 1922. No other Tigers player had ever even had a 20-homer season at that point. Alexander’s record remained as the franchise mark until 1934, when Hank Greenberg hit 26 home runs.
1929: Earl Averill -- Indians, 18 HR
When Trosky set the Indians’ single-season franchise record as a rookie in 1934, it turns out he was not the first rookie in franchise history to do so. In 1929, Averill -- who debuted at age 26 -- did it, knocking 18 home runs. Before Averill, the franchise record was held by Tris Speaker, who had hit seven home runs in 1923. Averill’s record did not stand for long -- in 1930, he hit 19 home runs and Ed Morgan hit 26, both ending up ahead of Averill’s rookie campaign on the franchise’s single-season home runs list.