Pete Alonso, the Mets first baseman, is having a rookie season made of dreams. As fate would have it though, the All-Star game is a distant dream…
Pete Alonso‘s standing in the All-Star fan voting epitomizes his team – they both just can’t catch a break. In any other year, a player with 22 home runs, 49 RBI, and a .933 OPS would be a shoo-in for selection to the All-Star Game at his position. Not so at first base this year in the National League as the table below indicates.
How can it be that Pete Alonso rests in fifth place with the initial voting scheduled to conclude a week from today (June 21 4:00 p.m. ET)? Are Mets fans asleep? Do they not care? Or, is it something else?
It is something else. Or someone else and his name is Josh Bell with his .325 BA, 19 HR, 61 RBI, and 1.055 OPS. Or maybe Anthony Rizzo‘s .281 BA, 17 HR, 47 RBI, .955 OPS. Add Max Muncy, the Dodgers sparkplug and his .278 BA, 15 HR, 40 RBI, .908 OPS, and the most unheralded player in the National League, Freddie Freeman, and the problem comes into focus.
There are too many first basemen in the National League having fabulous first halves of the 2019 season. Among them, Pete Alonso’s .254 batting average stands out as a minus, but there is something to be said about a rookie coming into the league with such force, not missing a beat from his pounding of Triple-A pitching last year at Las Vegas.
Still, with few restrictions in the new MLB rules for voting (you can vote up to five times a day), it is a wonder Pete Alonso has garnered only 157,000 votes when you consider he plays in a city with an area population of more than ten million.
That’s been the charge before about the fan’s voting. It’s a popularity contest with fans from densely populated areas stuffing the ballot for the players on their team. Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder, spoke out yesterday in an attempt to make the case for smaller market teams.
Recall, for instance, 2011, when fans elected Derek Jeter despite him having only two home runs and a .260 batting average. This year, however, there are no “legacy picks” like Jeter’s. These are all players in their prime, well before retirement years are closing in. Which only means Pete Alonso’s problem will continue for the next several years.
There’s another possibility, though. It could be fans are voting on merit instead of favoring home-town players. Josh Bell, for example, gets my vote before any other player every time I vote. How can anyone avoid the monstrous year he is having? But I also have no trouble listing Alonso as well.
In Alonso’s Case, The Voting Doesn’t Matter
New MLB rules are in place this year. They call this part of the voting The Primaries, following the Presidential election process. When the voting ends on June 21, the second stage kicks in with only the top three vote-getters at each position qualifying, with the ultimate top vote-getter tabbed as a starter.
Even at that, Pete Alonso needs to make up 250,000 votes to get close. Eventually, the pressure will shift to Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, last year’s NL representative in the World Series.
It’ll be Robert’s task to choose his pitchers and the position players to round out his squad. The excellent news is Roberts had probably seen all he wanted to of Pete Alonso when he went 7 for 18 with three home runs against the Dodgers in May.
Good news, bad news? Because all teams must be represented at the All-Star Game by at least one player, Alonso gets in that way.
Also in play is Alonso’s desire to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby. It pays a cool million dollars to the winner, and that isn’t hay for someone making the major league minimum salary.
One way or another though, and in spite of any deficiencies in the voting process, Pete Alonso will be in Cleveland for the All-Star Game. And that’s good news for fans of baseball.
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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