In a year where the New York Mets offense completely abandoned the team, Pete Alonso was the one player who kept chugging along in the middle of the order. Alonso’s power made up just under 20% of the Mets home run total for the entire 2021 season.
Pete Alonso is on some kind of a tear right now. pic.twitter.com/bqHw7fV6qc
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) July 25, 2021
Alonso came off a disappointing 2020 season where his average took a dramatic dip. He was more consistent with his average during the first half of the season, but his average still was not at his level of expectations. The same could be said for his power numbers. Alonso had a .477 slugging percentage at the All-Star break with 17 homers and 49 runs batted in. Those numbers would be terrific for most players, but Alonso’s rookie season set the bar high, and Alonso did not make the All-Star team.
His improved pitch recognition helped lower his strikeout rate to below 20%, making him even more of a dangerous hitter. Despite not playing in the ASG, Alonso traveled to Coors Field to defend his Home Run Derby crown. Like Steph Curry in the three-point contest, Alonso made the derby look easy and won his second crown. Competing in the derby also allowed him to rekindle his power stroke for the second half of the season.
Alonso ended up carrying his derby dominance into the second half and played at an all-star level. He slashed .275/.361/.560 with 20 home runs and even found a way to hit three triples. Alonso finished the year with 27 doubles, three triples, and 37 home runs. His slash line was on par with his rookie season and only struck out 127 times in 152 games. Alonso turned into a matured hitter this season and showed he is way more than a one-dimensional power threat.
His baseball savant page is one to be in awe of as he sits at the top of plenty of categories. His average exit velocity (80th percentile), hard-hit rate (81st percentile), and barrel rate (89th percentile) all contributed to his successful season. One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround was Alonso’s ability to hit breaking balls. In 2020, Alonso batted .191 and slugged .397 compared to a much more respectable .223 and .549 this season.
The one point of emphasis for Alonso’s offseason is leveling off his swing to avoid being weak on high strikes. Becoming a consistent hitter on pitches up will allow his average to creep closer to .300. Pitching Alonso up in the zone was a high-risk, high-reward move. His average across the top quadrants were .273 (inside), .706 (middle), and .429 (outside), showing you had to get the ball inside to beat him. On the flip side, his whiff rate hovered around 30% in all three spots.
The biggest knock on Alonso was his defense, but those questions have become irrelevant. For the first time in his career, Alonso posted a positive (2) outs above average and his defensive runs saved of five was a career-high. The one spot of improvement will come in his ability to make better decision-making on balls to his right. Alonso would often drift for balls better suited for the second baseman, making a play harder than it seems. His OAA of -6 on balls toward third base and four on balls towards first base show the vast difference in his range.
2022 will be a massive year for Alonso as the Mets need him to continue leading this offense loaded with questions marks. The progressions over the last three seasons should set expectations towards another 40 home run season. Surrounding Alonso with at least one more power bat can help his cause towards another 50 home run season.
2021 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2022 Projection)
Hitting: 55 (60), .270 xBA was the highest of his career.
Power:Â 75 (80), 37 homers were third in the NL.
Run: 25 (25), Sprint speed has decreased every year but hit three triples this season.
Arm: 50 (50), Only three throwing errors, and he started four double plays.
Field:Â 40 (50), Alonso has become a solid defensive first baseman; look for that to continue to improve.
Overall: 65 (70), Betting on Alonso to win MVP in 2022 is a long shot but not a bad bet.