Keidel: Pete Alonso Has Been The Constant Of A Crazy Mets Season

Jason Keidel
August 19, 2019 - 1:18 pm
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Before the MLB season began, Bleacher Report ran an exhaustive study on every farm system in the sport. The site saw the Mets as the 23rd-best in the big leagues, which serves as the mean for the Mets according to most valid reports. 

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So Brodie Van Wagenen landed on the Mets with a mission, making big deals and bigger promises. He declared that his club was the team to beat in the NL East after all the trades and free agent signings drained the ink out of his pen. 

Yet instead of Robinson Cano or Edwin Diaz or Jed Lowrie or any acquisition leading the Mets back from the dead, it is - with great irony - the homegrown kids who added this late-summer lightning that has them within two games of a wild-card spot. 

And no one has made more thunder claps than Pete Alonso, who on Sunday set the NL rookie record with his 40th homer. This after a sleepy offseason during which the only big news around the rookies was the fact that Pete Alonso preferred not to be called Peter. With all due respect to Jeff McNeil, who may win the batting title this season, it is Alonso who gives Mets fans a swollen sense of pride, while striking fear into the enemy. He needs just one more homer to tie Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the most in Mets history, while already doubling as the Mets' most feared HR threat since the '80s. 

And while Michael Conforto may have launched the longest homer yesterday, Alonso hit the most important bomb, burning his name and game into the archives. The Mets are 24-10 since the All-Star break, and Alonso has been the beacon of the season. When the Mets were swirling down the toilet, Alonso added the air freshener. When the Mets were read last rites, Alonso refused to die. He is two round-trippers away from the NL lead, and just three RBI (95) short of the top spot. 

In the latest, long-ball era, in which MLB HR totals have swollen to laughably large numbers (closing in on 7,000 for a season), the last place you thought to look for a power surge was Flushing, NY. Even at their best, the Mets were never the Bronx Bombers. There are no M & M Boys. No Ruth. No Reggie. Not even Aaron Judge. Yet the Mets have just unearthed their best power-hitting prospect since Darryl Strawberry's perfect uppercut swing had us hypnotized.

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Pete Alonso
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The Yankees lapped the world in runs scored (747) and are second in homers (227). Meanwhile the Mets have just 180 dingers, and well behind in runs scored (602). But if the Yanks are winning despite the dearth of production from their two muscular hitters (Stanton and Judge), then the Mets have leaned on Alonso all season, through his slumps, bumps, and his bombs. 

What makes Alonso all the more impressive, beyond the fact that he's a rookie, is the fact that the Mets need him so much. Giancarlo Stanton has played just nine games all year, yet the Yanks have rolled over the American League. Judge is toiling in an epic slump, yet the Yanks have ballooned to 40 games over .500 without his normal pyrotechnics at the plate. Yet Alonso is already burdened with the Big Apple's projections, which have him fitting in All-Star jerseys and Hall-of-Fame jackets. Despite the outsized expectations, Alonso is hardly Matt Harvey. Alonso is humble and fun family programming, while Harvey quickly morphed into his X-Rated reflection, self-obsessed and self-destructive.                        

As with any baseball team, Alonso is just one of many moving parts, and not the reason the Mets are contending. But the hulking slugger is likely to be the face of the franchise for many years. McNeil can win the NL batting title, and Alonso could finish with the most homers and RBI, giving two Mets the three legs of the triple crown. Not a bad look for a team with no farm system, and no future. 

It's not unfair to call Pete Alonso the engine that sparked the Mets. It's not unfair to call him the NL Rookie of the Year. It's fair to call him as the main nerve of the Mets lineup. Just don't call him Peter. 

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel