LOS ANGELES – In about six weeks’ time, Pete Alonso will likely return to Dodger Stadium for the MLB All-Star Game, where he figures to be one of several Mets players elected to the National League team. On the eve of those festivities, Alonso will almost certainly participate in the Home Run Derby as well, considering both his love for that event and his status as a two-time defending champion.
Might as well sneak in a little practice while he has the chance. Alonso homered twice in Saturday night’s 9-4 win over the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, driving home five runs in a dominant performance that drew him even with Cleveland’s José Ramírez for the MLB RBI lead at 53.
“I don’t think we expect anything less,” Mets starter David Peterson said. “Ever since he came up, he’s put on a show.”
Batting in the third inning, Alonso pulled a go-ahead two-run homer over the left-field fence to knock Dodgers starter Walker Buehler out of the game. In the seventh, he swatted a 100 mph Brusdar Graterol fastball to the opposite field for a three-run homer that made a tight game decidedly less so. It was his third home run over the past two days.
Alonso’s 16 homers are tied with the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts for the most in the National League. He also moved into a tie for 10th place on the Mets’ all-time home run list with 122 for his career.
“Oh, that’s sick,” Alonso said of his place in franchise history. “I didn’t know that. I just want to keep it going. ”
This has been a renaissance season for Alonso, who originally powered his way into the Mets’ plans with a 53-homer rookie season in 2019, before taking a noticeable step back in ’20 and a step forward last summer. This year, Alonso has played in all 55 of New York’s games, with an announced intention to try to appear in all 162. He could soon threaten the franchise record for consecutive games played, which has allowed him to concentrate his production.
At his current homer pace, Alonso could rank as high as sixth on the Mets’ all-time home run list by season’s end. He may also obliterate the franchise’s RBI record, which Mike Piazza and David Wright currently share at 124. (Alonso is on pace for 156.)
It’s a vortex of numbers that all essentially say the same thing: Alonso is hitting the ball often, and hard, and doing significant damage when he does. Almost exactly one-third of the way through the season, Alonso has established himself as the Mets’ most legitimate National League MVP Award candidate since Wright placed fourth in voting in 2007.
“It’s every single day,” Peterson said. “It’s not just hit a home run here, and then you don’t hear from him. … He has power to all fields. He’s not just trying to hit home runs. He’s really trying to drive the ball, which works for him. He’s a key piece of our lineup. ”
Over the past four seasons, Alonso has trained tirelessly to become a more complete hitter, improving his plate discipline as well as his all-fields approach. It showed against Buehler, a former Vanderbilt ace who performed “really well – like, really well” against the University of Florida alum Alonso in college.
“I didn’t want that to happen again,” said Alonso, whose home runs more than made up for a throwing error in the second inning.
On Saturday, Alonso’s performance allowed the Mets to win an eventful game that featured Buck Showalter removing Peterson in the middle of an at-bat, Francisco Lindor hitting a solo homer despite a fractured right middle finger and both teams enduring an 11-minute delay as umpires determined whether the Dodgers could let a position player pitch.
Alonso’s role in it all might have been the least surprising piece, given the location of the game. In 11 career contests at Dodger Stadium, Alonso has seven home runs. And he’s liable to hit quite a few more at next month’s Derby, despite joking after the game that he hasn’t received an invitation yet. But Alonso will most likely be there, eager to put on another show.
“It’s just one of those historic parks,” Alonso said. “There have been a lot of really important names in the game of baseball who have played here. For me, it’s an honor to play here. ”