Nicknamed “Pete the Polar Bear” for his big 6-foot-3, 245 pound build at just 24 years old, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has taken the big leagues by storm in 2019. Through 22 games Alonso has already clubbed eight homers, which is tied for fifth in the National League. Besides his impressive power, he’s also hitting .325 while driving in 21 runs.
Alonso hit a career-high 36 bombs across Double and Triple-A in 2018, and it looks like his power has translated right over against big-league pitching. He currently leads all rookies in homers and RBIs, looking like a potential early favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.
Alonso doesn’t just hit wall-scraping homers either; the rookie hits absolute mammoth shots at extremely high velocities. Given his first impression at the MLB level, the former Florida Gator could very well be one of the most exciting power hitters we have seen in a long time.
According to Statcast, Alonso is responsible for two of the Mets’ hardest hit home runs this season. On Sunday, he hit a 444-foot blast off former SEC rival and St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson, leaving the bat at 114.5 mph. Then on April 11, the 24-year old smoked the hardest hit dinger of 2019 so far, registering 118.3 mph. That bomb put him in exclusive company alongside Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. It was one of the hardest hit long balls since Statcast was introduced in 2015. The only two to hit balls harder? The two mentioned above. Pretty impressive company to be surrounded by in your first big-league season just a handful of games in.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 21, 2019
The impressive part about Alonso’s swing is that he puts the ball in the air often. He is in the big leagues to hit home runs, not to hit singles up the middle. He may be striking out more than the Mets would like, but that is inevitable when you’re a power hitter. In order to hit balls as far as Alonso has this season, you must get it in the air. His swing has a natural uppercut to it, which results in towering homers when he squares the ball up.
The Mets slugger also has a 52.8 percent hard-hit rate per Statcast, meaning he is squaring up the ball at 95 mph or higher more than half the time he steps foot in the batter’s box. Alonso also has a 28.3 percent barrel rate, which ranks him in the top one percent in the big leagues. This means he is hitting the ball 98 mph, or higher, 28.3 percent of the time, combined with the perfect launch angle between 26 and 30 degrees. For every mile per hour more, the launch angle increases. He’s also showing great patience when it comes to squaring up off-speed pitches, hitting .357 against those offerings.
Like I mentioned above, the first baseman hits long homers. He’s averaging 422 feet per home run while the league average is just 400 feet. When he was in the minors, he was a guy who mostly pulled the ball. Alonso has gotten a lot better at spraying the ball all over the field. Most of his homers have either been hit to dead center or left field, but he’s still hitting the ball to the opposite field 20.8 percent of the time.
The Mets rookie first baseman is a very special player and just tapping into his potential at the major-league level. His strength at the plate is mind-boggling, evident by this double down the line off Jake Arrieta on Monday night, which registered at 98 mph off the bat. Keep in mind that he is reaching for the ball and somehow still hits it close to 100 mph down the first base line:
Pete Alonso somehow hit the ball 98.7 mph with this swing.
— David Adler (@_dadler) April 23, 2019
That two-strike approach is a very good example of how mature of a hitter he is. Alonso realizes in that situation that he just needs to put the ball in play with a base knock to drive a guy in, and that’s exactly what he does.
Pete Alonso could very well be a 30-homer guy in the very near future, maybe even this season if he continues to find the barrel at a high rate. Alongside youngsters Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, Alonso is another important part of the New York Mets young core, as they look to get back into playoff contention in 2019.