Pete Alonso and the Mets – he’s like the Beatles – Encore, please? So only raise your hand if you’d like to be him during the 2020 season…
The Mets have a tiger by the tail, and they know it. They have a first baseman who shattered the record book for home runs in his rookie season.
Not only that, but Pete Alonso was impeccable as the face of the New York Mets.
For one week in Cleveland, he was also the face of major league baseball – winning the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game a short distance from the rock stars he resembled in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Sophomore jinx – myth or reality
The sophomore jinx has been a part of baseball forever, A player bursts upon the scene producing huge numbers, and he is all but elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame based on the assumption that what you did yesterday is bound to be better today.
But, oh that second and sometimes even the third and fourth seasons when a player tries mightily to recall how easy it was back then – and here I am today an embarrassment to my family and myself.
Pete Alonso, if he doesn’t feel the pressure, is indeed the “freak” some already believe him to be.
What’s supposed to be next? Sixty home runs and 150 RBI? Then 70 and 170 a year after that?
After all, in theory, you are supposed to learn and get better at anything you do progressively – right?
If the test is to come, it will come early. And if on May 1, Pete Alonso is batting .207 with three home runs and ten RBI after 100 at-bats, what happens then?
Is the headline on the back page of the New York Post “Pete The Fleet” joining the ranks of Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs with their one-hit wonder, “Wooly Bully”?
Major league ballplayers will tell you it’s not about getting to “The Show.” Instead, it’s all about staying there.
For some, like maybe a Juan Lagares, that means hanging on by your tippy tiptoes, so you qualify for a decent pension after ten years.
Mets and Pete Alonso set the bar higher
But for others, the bar is set higher. Some players, like Pete Alonso, set the bar to the highest of levels. And from there, it becomes a game of what have you done for me lately?
The New York Mets do not need Pete Alonso to break Barry Bonds‘s single-season home run record for the team to be playing in October.
But they do need continuing and in some cases, increased production from key players in their lineup.
Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto both reached a plateau, having excellent seasons in 2019. Is that it – or is there more?
On the pitching side, is Marcus Stroman all the Mets can expect him to be based on what he contributed after Brodie Van Wagenen swooped in to steal him from under the noses of several teams seeking to trade for him?
So, we reach the point where we can say it’s not solely about Pete Alonso. Other question marks exist.
With a bump in the road, it’s gonna be all right
But still, Pete Alonso’s star shines so brightly the others can hide in the shadows.
There doesn’t seem to be a way where Alonso enters the season on cruise control, content to rest on his laurels. The question, though, is if he is capable of staying “within himself,” a mighty task I’d doubt I could do, especially while playing in New York City.
Far from the numbers, 2019 was about the way Pete Alonso carried himself. With that as a barometer, bring on 2020…