Pete Alonso feeling strong and believes Mets' culture will be changed on field
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — These first years of Pete Alonso’s career have been full of wild statistics, from him leading the majors in home runs since his debut (106, the only player to reach triple digits) to his Home Run Derby winnings being greater than his actual salary ($2 million versus $1.47 million).
So here is another: Heading into his fourth season, Alonso already is onto his fourth manager in Buck Showalter and fourth general manager in Billy Eppler.
Such is the mess the Mets have been during Alonso’s tenure. Bouncing from Mickey Callaway to Carlos Beltran to Luis Rojas to Showalter — and from Brodie Van Wagenen to Jared Porter to Zack Scott to Eppler — has meant virtually no boss-related stability for Alonso and his fellow mainstays, including Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis.
They hope this year, though, is the start of a new calm.
"We’re just trying to change the culture. I feel like we’ve had some very talented teams in my time here, and we didn’t do as well as we hoped," Alonso said. "Once we change the culture, I feel like the stability comes. We need to perform in the season. We need to dig deep and get the most out of ourselves."
The Mets’ recent rate of turnover is extremely uncommon. Consider, alternatively, the particularly stable Yankees at the other end of the spectrum. They have had four managers — starting with Showalter, coincidentally — and three GMs since Alonso was born.
Maybe it is a chicken-and-egg problem. Which comes first, the stability or the culture change? The Mets have had neither. Although wanting to change the culture is a popular buzzword every spring training, it has been impossible for the Mets through all the false starts and regime changes.
Whichever comes first, Alonso thinks it begins on the field.
"It starts with us players being super tenacious and aggressive," he said. "I feel like we have that type of style of group. I feel like we’re ready to go."
Alonso is ready to go after an offseason that he said included a yet greater focus on work in the weight room — bad news for opposing pitchers, maybe, given the frequency of his feats of strength already.
"I feel the strongest I’ve ever been," he said. "Just excited to attack the season. I put in a lot work in this offseason and having that extra time off [because of the lockout], even though it wasn’t supposed to happen, worked to my advantage. I got to be able to spend more time in the weight room, more time in the cage to get to where I wanted to be. I feel excellent."
Halfway through the six years required to become a free agent, Alonso is about as reliable a lineup presence as any Mets hitter.
Consider his year-by-year OPS+, as one measure. That sort of bottom-line offensive statistic is set for 100 to be average, and the higher the better. He had a 147 in his rookie year, then 122 as a sophomore. Last season he settledright in between at 134.
Overall, he has been a little worse than Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. and a little better than Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
His personal efforts are well and good, but it hasn’t ultimately meant much for the Mets, who have a losing record since Alonso’s debut — which gets back to those ideas of culture change and stability (or stability and culture change).
"I want to be a champion. That’s all I want to do," Alonso said. "I want to be the best version of myself to help this team win. I really want to be holding up a trophy at the end of the year."