Buck Showalter spent the first three seasons of Pete Alonso’s career in a TV analyst’s chair, so he wasn’t able to get all too good of a look at the Mets’ slugger until taking over as skipper ahead of the 2022 season.
Yet baseball’s best statistical power hitter over the last four seasons — hitting more home runs than anyone else in the majors (132) during that span — still continues to amaze his manager.
“I didn’t realize how good he was, to be honest with you,” Showalter said. “He’s a special performer.”
Alonso smacked his 26th home run of the season during the Mets’ Subway Series sweeper of the Yankees on Wednesday night, lining a second-inning Domingo German offering off the railing just above the left-field fence.
It was the latest contribution of a season that continues to garner National League MVP consideration. He leads the National League in home runs and leads the majors with 84 RBI — a pace that is set to smash the Mets’ previous franchise record of 124 RBI set by Mike Piazza in 1999 and David Wright in 2008.
His OPS of .904 ranks fourth in the majors and his OPS+ of 154 is on pace to set a new career high all while performing as the lone consistent and looming power threat in a lineup that has often been predicated on playing a modern version of small ball.
All while dealing with some scary off-field issues at the beginning of the season — and drawing the ire of some of his opponents.
“Look at everything Pete’s kind of quietly overcome — from the car accident in spring training, getting hit by pitches in the neck and the head and different stuff — it’s pretty remarkable the consistency that he’s had,” Showalter said. “It tells you how tough he is mentally. This guy is a competitive guy.
“He’ll stick his nose in there and compete constantly. He’s been a very consistent competitor. He never wavers from that.”
The 27-year-old has appeared in 97 of 98 games this season, exhibiting a throwback desire of a star player wanting to be in the lineup every day.
For Showalter, Alonso’s need to compete and his meticulous approach at the plate are still overshadowed by his clubhouse presence.
“Pete’s just been a constant for us. I think his personality, who he is, has been a constant, too,” Showalter said. “You never have somebody ask what kind of mood Pete is in today. You know? ‘How’s Pete doing today?’ You never have to ask that.
“He’s the same guy, and I can’t tell you how much that means both on the field and off to the consistency of a club.”
The only thing the Mets skipper wants is to spend some more time with his star.
“He’s always approachable. I enjoy talking to him,” he continued. “I like when he comes in here and plops down. He doesn’t do that very often. I wish he would do that more.”