Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso (20) reacts after a home...

Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso (20) reacts after a home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.  Credit: AP/Scot Tucker

OAKLAND, Calif. — Think of the best seasons by the best hitters — any of them — in the history of the Mets. Who comes to mind?

Darryl Strawberry a bunch of years in the 1980s. Mike Piazza right before or after the turn of the century. John Olerud in 1998. David Wright in ’07 or ’08, to choose two. Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado along with him. The list goes on.

Pete Alonso has topped them all in one of the categories he values most: runs batted in.

He highlighted the Mets’ 13-4 win over the Athletics on Sunday with a massive game: 4-for-5, a titanic two-run homer, a three-run double that was nearly a grand slam, and three runs scored.

The victory allowed the NL East-leading Mets to stay 1 1⁄2 games ahead of Atlanta. They have eight games remaining.

Alonso’s five RBIs upped his total to 128, a single-season franchise record and the most in the NL this year. He powered past the prodigious production of 1999 Piazza and 2008 Wright, who each had 124.

He also is tied for fourth on that list, by the way, with 120 in 2019, his rookie season.

 

“It’s a huge honor, No. 1, and also I wouldn’t be able to be in this position without my teammates,” Alonso said. “I feel blessed and honored to have the record, but without them, I wouldn’t be able to get it done. I’m just really thankful and appreciative to have a bunch of guys in front of me that have put together awesome at-bats every single day. It’s really great to be a part of.”

In an era in which the RBI sometimes is denigrated as a useful statistic, they still very much matter to Alonso.

“They mean a lot because it’s a run-scoring competition,” he said. “Getting hits is great, obviously that’s great for personal stats, but I think driving guys in is important because the whole point of the game is to score more runs than the other team. That’s why we play.”

Alonso began the day one shy of tying the record. After chasing lefthander JP Sears (3 2⁄3 innings, six runs), the Mets (97-57) already were blowing out Oakland (56-97) when he stepped to the plate against newly entered rookie reliever Norge Ruiz in the top of the fourth. He sent a slider into the second section of seats in left-centerfield.

At an estimated 451 feet, Alonso’s 39th home run was his longest of the season.

“When he collides with a ball, it’s fun to figure out where it’s going to land,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The record was his, and then he extended it. With the bases loaded in the eighth, he lined a double off the rightfield wall, plating all three runs.

“Obviously, what he does statistically is what jumps out at you,” Showalter said. “But what jumps out at me is: I always look at those things and go, OK, why? There’s a consistent force in the clubhouse that never fades. Pete in a bad mood? Yeah, he gets a little testy when he’s not contributing. But he’s not doing it because ‘I want everybody to look at me’ adulation-wise. It’s because he sincerely believes ‘I want to do what the team needs.’ That’s why it’s been so attractive to be around him.”

Max Scherzer said: “He plays with so much heart. I think that’s the thing a lot of people probably don’t recognize about him so much: how much he plays this game with heart. He’s been a treat to have as a teammate.”

Scherzer did what he needed to do, allowing one run in six innings and reaching 91 pitches, a normal step up from his previous outing, setting him up for 100 or more next weekend against Atlanta in his regular-season finale.

But he ended the day in awe of and intrigued by Alonso.

“As good as he’s been this year,” Scherzer said, “I enjoy facing the best, so part of me actually wants to face him.”

Most RBIs in a season in Mets history:

1. Pete Alonso, 2022: 128
2(t). David Wright, 2008: 124
 Mike Piazza, 1999: 124