First baseman Pete Alonso, one of the much-anticipated New York Mets prospects, has arrived this Spring Training in 2019 as he is establishing himself as the favorite to start at first base for Opening Day. This is quickly turning into his position to lose as competing first baseman Dominic Smith is on the outside looking in, despite his impressive spring performance so far. Alonso is hitting for a .423 average with three home runs and six runs batted in. This is his first base job going into Opening Day.
Alonso provides something for the Mets that they have not had in some time since Carlos Delgado and that is a power-hitting, offensive slugging first baseman. In 2018, the 24 year-old cranked 36 home runs with 119 runs batted in as he hit for a .285 average in 132 games during his time with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (AA) and the Las Vegas 51s (AAA). Playing in Las Vegas can be misleading but he continued his offensive pace into the fall and now this spring. In 27 games in the Arizona Fall League, he ripped six more round trippers with 27 runs batted in, averaging an RBI per game. This is a solid almost year-long stretch that he has been producing offensively and he has not slowed down. Alonso is the real deal.
The former second-round selection in 2016 displays immense intangibles, which are valuable for a young player such as Alonso. When he first arrived to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training, when he was asked about what pitcher he wanted to face in a live pitching session, he chose Mets ace Jacob deGrom. He did not shy away from the 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner who just posted one of the best pitching seasons in MLB history. He did not falter because he knows that he has to beat the best in order to be the best. That competitive side can motivate other players in the clubhouse. It can also bring out the best in any player so they can perform at their peak.
Alonso should be considered the first choice at first base also because competitor Dominic Smith has not fully taken advantage of any opportunities during his time in the MLB. During parts of the last two seasons, Smith has hit for an abysmal .198 average in 2017 and still struggled with a .224 average in 2018. Last season, he only drew four walks in 59 games compared to 47 punch-outs. In addition, the Mets experimented with Smith in the outfield which failed miserably even though it was not Smith’s fault. Despite Smith having an impressive Spring Training of his own with a .435 average with one home run and six RBIs, he had his opportunity to win the first baseman job in Queens but he did not capitalize.
More importantly, Smith has had a history of lacking discipline which does not bode well since he has work even harder to improve his reputation. He has not taken care of his weight as he has showed up for the Mets multiple times overweight. Plus, his Dominican Winter League team, Toros del Este, released Smith back in late October. The former first-round selection in 2013 must work his way back into the fold and a bench position should be a best case scenario for Smith.
It is time for Pete Alonso to get his starting job opportunity for New York. This is his job as he rightfully deserves the starting gig instead of Smith.