The New York Mets first baseman, Peter Alonso has been on fire.
Folks saw this coming, but not many. Prior to his MLB debut, baseball fans especially around New York/Queens knew of Alonso’s potential and believed that the Tampa, Florida native could have a bounty of success at the Major League level. But, I’m not sure anyone thought that he’d have a .315/.405/.699 batting line.
Alonso sees the ball extremely well. If you look at his numbers on FanGraphs, you’ll be blown away. His HR/FB (Home Run to Fly Ball ratio) is 33.3%. That’s roughly 5% better than how he performed last season with the Mets’ former triple A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51’s. In addition, his LD% (Line Drive Percentage) and FB% (Fly Ball Percentage) are higher than what he was doing last year in Nevada.
Also, Alonso owns a very high wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus). Currently, after 73 at bats, he owns a 189. While it’s hard to compare his WRC+ (given the small sample size) to last year’s wRC+ leaders, Alonso is putting up ridiculous numbers. If he can keep at his current pace, he’d own a higher wRC+ than Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Christian Yelich, Alex Bregman, Brandon Nimmo and Jose Ramirez (wRC+ totals from last season).
How To Pitch To Alonso?
The question is how can you try to slow Alonso down if you are an opposing pitcher?
As of today, Alonso is seeing more fastballs than any other pitch. Fifty-one percent of the pitches that Alonso sees are fastballs. Aside from fastballs, he sees a decent amount of sliders (17.3%). After sliders and fastballs, he hardly sees other pitches. He’ll see a curveball or change-up every now and then, but it’s no-where close to the rate in which he sees fastballs or sliders.
In addition, Alonso swings at more balls in the zone than outside of the zone. At the moment, he owns a O-Swing% (Outside Of The Zone Swing Percentage) of 31.4% and a Z-Swing% (Zone Swing Percentage) of 64.4%.
So, if I were an opposing pitcher, I would start to throw more curveballs and change-ups in the zone and see if Alonso will fail to make contact. He hasn’t been completely battle-tested at the Major League level, so not every pitcher has had a chance to face Alonso. They are just approaching Alonso based on the video content from his few games this season and video content from the minors. With that in mind, many pitchers are tempted to throw fastballs to him, without realizing how dangerous he is at crushing fastballs. If they utilize more change-ups and curveballs in the zone, they might be able to quiet his power a tad.
stats from baseball-reference and fangraphs.com