If only we all could have “down seasons” in which we put up a full season pace of 43 home runs with 93 RBI. But that’s exactly how New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso’s shortened 2020 season was described as.
He ranked third in the National League with 16 home runs in 57 games to go with 35 RBI and an .817 OPS that was indeed a considerable drop-off from his incredible rookie season two years ago.
Chalk it up to the dreaded sophomore slump or the absence of Mets hitting coach Chili Davis, but Alonso was far less composed at the plate, especially during the first half of 2020. He struck out 61 times in those 57 games while his batting average and on-base percentage both dropped nearly 30 points.
“It was a lot of the second-year thing being said to him since early. ‘Are you worried about the second year?’ or ‘The second year is tough,'” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “Pete heard it a lot. He was trying to do too much… putting a lot on his shoulders.”
Now off social media and focusing on regaining that composure and equilibrium at the dish, Alonso has looked like his old self during spring training, slashing .378/.477/.757 (1.234 OPS) with three home runs and 12 RBI in 14 games.
“I feel like I’m in a really good spot,” Alonso said. “I’m swinging at a lot of very quality pitches, capitalizing on them, and hitting them hard… I feel like my game is very consistent right now and I’m feeling really good and I can’t wait to finish out camp and get the season started.”
That composure at the plate is also hitting new heights as he can count on two hands the number of bad pitches he’s chased so far this spring — saying the total was up to “eight or nine right now, I believe.”
“It’s been fun to see the adjustment he’s made,” Rojas said. “Going through that… and getting to work this offseason, he’s just more calm. He’s kept things a lot more simpler and you can see it on the field.”
The 26-year-old is poised to be anchoring the best lineup he’s ever been in — and one of the greatest lineups, at least on paper, seen in franchise history.
With the addition of superstar Francisco Lindor joining the likes of All-Stars in Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto, this is as deep a Mets lineup as ever, meaning Alonso is going to see plenty of pitches to hit.
Perfect timing for a young slugger who looks as though he’s figuring it all out.
“I’ve developed my game, I’ve worked my ass off, and I’m in a really good spot,” he said. “The whole goal is to continue this philosophy, make quality swing decisions, and keep battling.”