Pete Alonso effuses optimism. He believes the Mets can win the World Series and hurts when he fails. If only he could learn not to try so hard…
Pete Alonso is best personified by this one play. Alonso tried to field a ground ball from his first base position during that now-infamous Seth Lugo/Mickey Callaway five-run inning diaster. The play left him almost standing on second base without the ball in his glove. Lugo, believing it was a routine grounder to second, never covered first where Alonso should have been to receive the ball from Joe Panik. The runner is safe. The disastrous inning continues.
This is Pete Alonso. The same Pete Alonso who will set the National League record for most home runs hit by a rookie the next time hits one (surpassing Cody Bellinger‘s mark of 39 in 2017).
He’s the same Pete Alonso who came up with five hits, including the record-tieing blast, that propelled his Mets to a face-saving win against the Braves. The same Alonso who lamented his 0-4 performance, leaving runners stranded twice the night before during the Mets debacle in Atlanta.
Pete Alonso isn’t playing for a Wild Card. He’s the first to tell you he’s in it for a Division Title and a romp to the World Series this year. He envisions no reason why his teammates shouldn’t hop on his back, believing the same thing.
All of which presents an exciting and rare challenge for his manager, Mickey Callaway. How do you tell your player not to hustle as much? To let the second baseman do his job while you do yours? How do you convince your player to tone it down a bit, not to play with such an intensity that it causes the opposite result of what you want?
Callaway tried to explain his predicament to the New York Daily News this way:
And so, before tonight’s game against the Royals, the Mets will host a fielding clinic with Pete Alonso as the only student. Alonso is fine with it. He wants to be the best, and he’s open to coaching.
A rarity these days, huh?
Pete Alonso has always enjoyed success on a baseball field. Last year, his final year in the minors, he hit 36 home runs, driving in 119, with a respectable .285 batting average. Engaged in a battle with Dominic Smith for the Mets job at first base during Spring Training, the only real question seemed to be if the Mets would start Alonso off at Triple-A Syracuse to save one precious (read $$) year before arbitration and free agency arrived.
The Mets chose not to, and the rest is history in the making. Because in Alonso’s case, the numbers do mean something:
Focus for a second on those projected numbers if Alonso were to play a full 162-game schedule and you’ll see what the future holds for this 24-year-old.
How not to try so hard to get there.
Pete Alonso isn’t Superman yet though, as the number of strikeouts versus walks indicates. His fielding deficiencies have been previously addressed, as well. But it’s all in the making of a star. And learning to play within himself.
It’ll come just as everything else has come to Pete Alonso. Aptly nicknamed Polar Bear, he plays more like a tiger. Polar Bear is good enough, and it’s Mickey Callaway’s job to keep it that way.