Orange-and-blue faithful let out a relentless roar upon learning that New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso was crowned National League Rookie of the Year on Monday.
They have every reason to be thrilled — the man they call “The Polar Bear” took the team, the city and the National League by storm in 2019 — hitting a league-high 53 home runs, winning the 2019 Home Run Derby crown and energizing a team and a fan base in dire need of a jolt of success.
Alonso’s meteoric rise follows the path of a similar big bat and former Rookie of the Year from New York, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.
Like Alonso, Judge dominated during his 2017 debut, clubbing a then-record 52 home runs and winning that year’s Home Run Derby with monstrous shots in Miami that still haven’t landed.
For many Mets fans, watching Alonso break Judge’s record with his 53rd rookie bomb into straightaway center at Citi Field in late September was a stellar and superb highlight in what was a less than eventful season.
It also solidified the argument that not only do the best bats come to New York but they’re also young, eager and pretty darn clutch.
So, besides playing in the greatest city with the best fans on earth, what is it that Judge and Alonso had in common that sent them on such parallel rookie successes? Ironically, it’s having Todd Frazier as their teammate.
Frazier, a former home run derby champion himself with Cincinnati has proven that no matter where or what team the infielder is on, he makes his squad simply want to play better–especially the younger fellas.
One of his most admirable qualities during his stint as a Yankee during Judge’s rookie year was his locker room leadership and being able to reach players in ways that coaches didn’t muster the ability to. That kind of leadership was greatly exemplified in heroic, clutch homers and hits in the bombers seven game falter to the Houston Astros in the ALCS (who are now being investigated for sign stealing).
It’s quite safe to imagine he also helped guide Alonso to reach his full potential, especially when the rookie let a go ahead, game-winning homer fly against Miami late in the game on Aug. 5, a high point in the Mets season.
And like Judge, much of the Mets’ future rests upon Alonso’s success. He’s part of a core of young players that include infielders Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis, shortstop Amed Rosario, outfielder Michael Conforto and ace pitcher Jacob deGrom that can help drive an Amazin’ run of success in 2020 — provided the front office gives them the roster support they need.