Mets Have A Pete Alonso Problem
Looking back at 2019, Pete Alonso was the Mets best player. He was setting franchise and rookie home run records while quickly becoming one of the most popular players in team history.
With Alonso at the forefront, the Mets seemed to have a superstar in the making. He was a foundation for the Mets next big run. Looking at 2020, it hasn’t happened that way.
Through 46 games, he’s hitting .216/.318/.433 with a pedestrian 105 OPS+. Heading into the season, he talked about wanting to win a Gold Glove in his career, but with a -3 DRS and a -3 OAA, he’s showing no improvement from when he was the worst defensive first baseman in baseball last year.
Now, there are many reasons to explain why he’s struggling. First and foremost, this pandemic and shutdown hit everyone hard. There’s no telling the emotional toll it took on Alonso and his ability to prepare for the season.
Other factors include the fact the league might’ve caught up to him, and he hasn’t had time to adjust what they’re now doing to him. As a possible correlation, Alonso’s whiff rate has increased while his exit velocity, launch angles, and barrels have dropped.
Teams seem to be shifting more against him, which explains a drop in BABIP. To that point, his BABIP being at .245 does indicate some bad luck is involved.
The elephant in the room is the ball has changed from last year. Yes, we continue to see Alonso has tremendous power, but part of his success (and everyone else’s) was due to the juiced ball. Without that juiced ball, we are seeing some hitters struggle.
All told, Alonso is at a -0.4 WAR. Right now, that stands as the worst mark amongst Mets regulars. That just shows how much he has struggled all season long.
As we saw last night, he came up in multiple spots where we saw him deliver in all of 2019. Much like most of this year, he didn’t get the job done.
While this has been happening, Dominic Smith, who is younger than Alonso, has emerged as a star. In fact, Smith is the fifth best hitter in all of baseball this year with a 174 wRC+. He’s also been a superior defensive first baseman than Alonso even if his numbers are pedestrian (-1 DRS, 0 OAA).
Smith is also entering arbitration. To a certain extent, that means the Mets are closer to having make a decision on him. By natural extension, making a decision on him means making a decision on Alonso as both play the same position.
While this is occurring, the Mets will be entering an offseason looking to add up to four starters to their rotation, adding a center fielder, and completely rebuilding their bullpen . . . again.
Making Alonso available in a trade puts the Mets in the conversation for the top players on the trade market. That includes Francisco Lindor and any other Indians who may hit the trade block.
By the same token, how can you trade as popular a player as Alonso is? More importantly, how can you trade a player knowing what Alonso did last year? Still, with all that, we have his 2020 performance, which can’t be ignored.
Therein lies the problem. The Mets have a lot of needs, and they have two young first basemen who appear to be stars. Realistically speaking, the Mets can only go forward with one of them, and they have to choose right both in terms of the player and the deal.
Fortunately, the Mets will soon have Steve Cohen in charge and what should be a revamped front office without Brodie Van Wagenen at the helm. That should give us some confidence the Mets can and will make the right decision.