Alonso breaks NL rookie home run record

New York Mets' Pete Alonso hits a solo home run off Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Jacob Barnes during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pete Alonso wasn’t even sure he was going to make the New York Mets’ opening day roster, so even he never could have imagined the incredible season he’s having.

The burly first baseman hit his 40th home run to break the National League rookie record, capping a late outburst by the New York Mets in their 11-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

“This season’s been unbelievable,” said Alonso, the former standout at the University of Florida. “It’s been a dream come true so far and I just want to keep building off of it and keep trying to help this team win.”

Michael Conforto hit a long homer in the first inning and drove in four runs. Amed Rosario put the Mets ahead 6-4 with a two-run single in the seventh, and Alonso went deep in the ninth.

Alonso quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count, but when Royals pitcher Jacob Barnes threw a high fastball, he didn’t miss.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard like I have been,” Alonso said. “Take good, quality swings at good pitches and, thankfully, he gave me a fastball up in the zone, which I like to swing at.”

The result was a no-doubt shot over the bullpen in left field that snapped a tie with Cody Bellinger, who hit 39 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 on the way to winning Rookie of the Year honors.

“It was a pretty grand one,” New York manager Mickey Callaway said. “It went a long way, it seemed like.”

Next up for the 24-year-old Alonso is the Mets season record of 41 home runs set by Todd Hundley in 1996 and equaled by Carlos Beltran a decade later.

“That’s even more mind-boggling,” Alonso said. “I’m just really grateful. Grateful and thankful and happy that I’ve had this opportunity.”

New York, in the middle of a crowded NL wild-card race thanks to its second-half surge, completed a 3-3 road trip and improved to 24-10 since the All-Star break.

Alonso also had an RBI double and scored three times during his second consecutive three-hit game. Rosario had three hits and three RBIs in the leadoff spot, and Joe Panik added three hits as the top four batters in the Mets’ lineup combined to go 11 for 18 with nine RBIs and seven runs.

“When we’re locked in and try to put good at-bats together and hit the ball hard and not try to do too much, I mean, we can be really dangerous,” Alonso said. “Today we showed that.”



    • Indeed Waz. Joe Gararagiola, who claims his MLB career was defined as “The player to be named later,” said it best, “The most difficult thing in all of sports is to take a round ball and a round bat and hit the ball squarely.” Pete is doing that, and not to diminish his accomplishment, because he is, after all, hitting the ball squarely, he has been given the added advantage to what is probably the most juiced up AAA and MLB baseballs in the history of the game. Still, he is a Gator and a wonderful recruiting tool, AND he isn’t juicing himself, like others did in the past. No * for Pete Alonso! Go Gator!

      • SHP, speaking of juiced balls, the 1987 season comes to mind. I was a big Dale Murphy fan then, and he had his career best of 44 home runs, 7 better than his second best season. Andre Dawson beat him out for the NL home run title with 49, 17 better than his second best season. I think that was also the season Mark McGwire hit 49 as a rookie for the A’s. As you say, though, the juiced ball doesn’t matter in context of the season, since all players are hitting the same the same ball. Since Alonso isn’t juicing himself, I proudly say congrats and Go Gator!

  1. Wow! Should be Rookie of the Year. I remember he was a star, one of many, at UF but don’t remember him being a superstar. What were his college HR stats like? How often was he knocking them out of the park per AB back then and how does it compare to this season in the big league?

    • Sly, good to read a post from you. I always enjoy your comments. Without Googling it, I think Alonso got hit in the face with either a pitch or a foul ball in his sophomore(?) season, which limited his production at UF. Also, I think most of his UF career was spent before the NCAA lowered the seams on the ball, which I believe lowered the ball’s air resistance and resulted in the ball travelling farther and producing more home runs. I’m pretty sure he was in double digits in home runs in his last season and hit some monster shots at the CWS. You could definitely see the power, but I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen this level of productivity in the majors.

      • Joe – Appreciate your comment. I enjoy your level headed presence as well. Helps keep the stray emotional posts at bay. Ok enough of the bromance.

        Looking at his stats (courtesy of Steveob from below), you are probably right on about his injury during his sophomore season. He had about 1/3 less at bats and games played that year. I love how you went into the science behind the seam modification. It may have limited his HR production in college. Just think what he could have done with dimpled baseballs.

        • Agreed, Sly. He certainly had the raw power to hit 20+ with today’s NCAA ball. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Sully recently said something to the effect that Alonso was the naturally strongest player he’s ever coached.

      • Steveob – Thanks for the link! Good stuff there. As you said, his last year was his best.

        To answer my own curiosity, here’s the comparison of just his last year in college vs this year.

        Slash line: .374/.469/.659 vs .271/.375/.604
        HR/AB: 14/211 (6.6%) vs 40/447 (8.9%)

        He was hitting more doubles in college but more homers in the pros.