Pete Alonso, the leading contender for the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award, broke the Mets’ single-season home run record on Tuesday, hitting his 42nd of the season in a game against the Chicago Cubs.
“As soon as that ball came off my bat, I knew right away,” Alonso said, adding: “It’s such an amazing feeling. It’s been a dream come true, so far this year.”
The previous record of 41 home runs was shared by Todd Hundley, who accomplished the feat in 1996, and Carlos Beltran, who matched it in 2006. The Mets are the only team whose current single-season home run record was set by a rookie.
“58 years of Mets baseball, and no one has ever hit more home runs in a season as a New York Met.”
Congrats to your new Mets home run king, @Pete_Alonso20. pic.twitter.com/jx6G45pSvK
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 28, 2019
“It’s a pleasure to have a fine young player like Pete Alonso break my record,” Beltran said in a statement provided by the Mets.
Hundley also weighed in, congratulating Alonso for the record and saying, “To me, he’s more than a power hitter, he’s a pure hitter.”
Alonso has had his eye on the franchise mark since he smashed his 40th homer to break the National League rookie record on Aug. 18 against the Kansas City Royals. With a little over a month left in the season, Alonso will set his sights on the Major League Baseball rookie record of 52, set by Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge in 2017. Judge is the only rookie to surpass 50.
Alonso, 24, has been at the center of a Mets resurgence that thrust the team into the race for a wild-card playoff spot. The Mets entered the All-Star break with a 40-50 record, but are currently 67-64. They lost to the Cubs, 5-2, on Tuesday and fell three games behind them in the race for the second N.L. wild card spot.
“We know that we can play better,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of season left.”
Alonso, known as Polar Bear among his teammates, has embraced the spotlight in his first big-league season. He won the Home Run Derby last month and, in addition to home runs, also led all rookies in runs scored, hits, walks and runs batted in.
He was the Mets’ second-round pick, out of the University of Florida, in the 2016 draft. He hit 36 home runs and had 119 R.B.I. between Class AA and Class AAA last year but wasn’t called up to the major leagues. Despite the strong showing, his fate on the opening day roster was up in the air during spring training, because the team was concerned about his defense. He eventually earned a spot and started on opening day.
“When I found out I made the team, I just wanted to make the biggest impact possible because I wanted to stay up here,” Alonso said. “I didn’t want to do the whole up-and-down situation.”
Hitters over all this year remain on a pace to break the single-season record of 6,105 homers, which was set just two years ago. Noting that the balls seem to have changed over the years, some standout pitchers have accused the game’s leaders of manipulating the production process to increase power hitting.
The M.L.B. commissioner, Rob Manfred, has said that the balls seem to be more aerodynamic but that the league has not ordered any alterations in their production.
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SOURCE : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/sports/baseball/pete-alonso-mets-home-run-record.html