MLB, New York Mets

How Pete Alonso can improve on his historic 2019 season

Pete Alonso rewrote the record books last year. But there is one facet in his game that needs some improvement.

Pete Alonso became a household name last year faster than you can say “one vote shy of being a unanimous Rookie of the Year.”

His 53 home runs last season were the most ever by a rookie and the most hit by a Met in one season. In fact, it was twice the amount of home runs that former Met Darryl Strawberry hit in his first two seasons combined.

His 5.7 offensive bWAR was the highest by a rookie in Mets history. Ron Hunt’s 3.9 in 1963 was the previous mark. His 120 RBI are tied for the third-most ever in a season by a Met with Robin Ventura in 1999/ David Wright drove in 124 runs in 2008, while Mike Piazza had 124 RBI in 1999.

However, there is still room for improvement on the 6’3”, 245-pound slugger.

While 53 home runs is obviously nothing to sneeze at, Alonso had one of the worst 50-home run seasons ever.

That was a very weird sentence to write, but it’s the truth.

Out of all 46 50-home run seasons in baseball history, Alonso’s .358 on-base percentage is the second-lowest. Andruw Jones had a .347 on-base percentage when he hit 51 home runs in 2005. Out of 135 qualified hitters last year, his on-base percentage ranked 43rd in baseball. That barely cracked the top-third. Out of 35-home run hitters last year, his on-base percentage barely was in the top half.

His .260 batting average and .941 OPS were the second-lowest in a season when someone hit at least 50 dingers. His 72 walks and 183 strikeouts were the third-most in such years.

His 31.9 chase-rate percentage was above the league average of 28.3 percent. And he’s not chasing wisely, either.

On pitches he swung at out of the zone, he made contact 58.2 percent of the time, which was below the MLB average of 59.6 percent.

Alonso’s walk-to-strikeout ratio was 0.4. Out of 207 players with at least 400 plate appearances last year, that ranked 111th.

He walked in 10.4 percent of his plate appearances. That ranked in the 29th percentile among qualified hitters, but plenty of the game’s less-feared hitters — like Jarrod Dyson, Brian Dozier, and Shin-Soo Choo, ranked ahead of him.

The majority of his plate appearances — 46.2 percent — came in the two-hole of the lineup. If that’s going to continue, whether it’s Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, or Amed Rosario batting leadoff, a high chase rate — and low chase contract percentage — is not going to move those guys around the bases.

To be fair, when you’re setting records in your first big league season, you might be free swinging just a bit more. And his second-half walk percentage (11.04 percent) was higher than his first-half (9.84 percent). That could be a good sign that Alonso was learning to be patient as pitchers were being more careful with the breakout slugger.

But even with Alonso’s numbers being worse in the second half, the Mets’ record was not. As Alonso came back down to earth after a monstrous first half, the Mets went 46-26 post-All-Star break. They were 40-50 despite Alonso’s first half OPS of 1.006.

The Mets are contenders again. And if Alonso can be more patient at the plate, the rest of the Mets lineup is talented enough give him proper protection and/or drive him in.

Next: Pete Alonso talks baseball cards, the Mets’ new manager and sophomore season expectations

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