PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With less than a week of spring training remaining, one of the surest signals of Pete Alonso’s impressive camp has to do with his number of fingers.
Across his 44 plate appearances in 14 exhibition games, he has swung at only eight or nine pitches that he should not have, he said.
"To be able to count on my hands," he said Tuesday, "I feel like I’m in a good spot right now."
Alonso leads Mets regulars in average (.378), OBP (.477), slugging percentage (.757) and RBIs (12) and is second in walks (six) and homers (three).
Grapefruit League statistics don’t mean all that much, of course, but this scenario is better than the opposite. And for Alonso, they are indicators that his process is working — "good immediate feedback" after an offseason of hard work, manager Luis Rojas said.
"Yes, the numbers are there, but I feel like I’m swinging at a lot of very quality pitches, capitalizing and hitting those pitches hard in my zone," Alonso said. "And I’m playing well on defense and running the bases well. So I feel like my game is very consistent right now and I’m feeling really good and I can’t wait to finish out camp and eventually get the season started.
"The whole goal this year is to continue this philosophy, continue to make quality swing decisions, stay consistent and keep battling. That’s the whole deal there. And I feel like I’ve been very consistent and I’ve been a tough out this spring. I want to be able to continue that when we finish this thing out and get rolling into the season."
Preceding the on-field success was what seemed to be a more serious, focused demeanor during Mets’ workouts and games, as well as what looked like a slimmed-down physique. Not to suggest he was ever unfocused, but Alonso upon his arrival this year appeared more deliberate and businesslike — a vibe bolstered by his deactivation of his personal social-media accounts.
Alonso isn’t interested in attributing his March success to getting offline, though. Correlation but not causation. He said linking them would be "unfair."
"I don’t think there’s any connection at all," he said. "I’m just playing well because I am focused, but again, whether social media or not, I would be extremely focused on this season and I just really feel confident in myself.
"I feel like I’ve elevated my game. I’ve worked my [butt] off. I feel like I’m in a really good spot because I’ve had a really productive offseason."
He feels that way about his defense, too. Alonso noted that his throwing accuracy has "improved dramatically," as has his situational awareness.
"I feel like I’ve done a really good job of being a complete player this spring," he said.
The lingering question is whether the Mets this year will get 2019 Alonso (an All-Star phenomenon and MVP candidate) or the 2020 Alonso (an above-average hitter who nonetheless regressed). Either would be an asset to most any lineup, but Alonso was a game-changer his rookie year. The Mets would like that again.
The answer from teammates and staff, starting with hitting coach Chili Davis at the beginning of spring training, is this looks like the 2019 version.
Rojas thinks Alonso solved one of his biggest problems: working too hard.
"This is a guy that is competing against himself," Rojas said. "If he feels that something didn’t go well, he’s going to go out there and he’s going to work hard. The one problem that he’s had in the past at his young age is that he probably worked too much. I think he found a way of getting his work, I want to say more [efficient], having a set goal that is more focused. He’s done it."