New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso became the first hitter this season to slug 20 home runs when he launched one against the Colorado Rockies Saturday night, his 10th of the month. Alonso enters Sunday with a three-homer lead over Jorge Soler of the Miami Marlins. Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy is the only other batter over 15 home runs.
Alonso, 28, is now batting .239/.339/.558 through his first 53 games. His 144 OPS+ is only slightly behind his marks in 2019 (147) and 2022 (145), suggesting that he's having one of the best offensive seasons of his career. That might be selling Alonso a little short, even, considering that he's on pace for a special amount of home runs. Indeed, he's a clear threat to record the ninth 60-homer season since integration.
Let's break it down. Alonso is averaging 4.3 plate appearances per game, and 11.4 plate appearances per home run. If he were to keep up those rates and appear in 155 games total this season (and bear in mind, he's cleared 160 games twice before), he would end up with about 59 home runs. Now, there's a massive difference between being on that pace through the first two months versus actually maintaining that pace for the entire year. Just last season, however, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge proved that it is possible for a modern hitter to clear the threshold. Judge, of course, broke both of Roger Maris' long standing single-season home-run records, for the Yankees and the American League. On his way, he homered 21 times in the Yankees' first 53 games.
Here's a look at the other 60-homer seasons since 1947, as well as where they stood through 53 team games:
|Player||Year||Through 53 team games||Total|
Judge, for his part, provided some advice to Alonso on his home-run pursuit, telling the New York Post: "Don't listen to the noise. People are gonna ask a lot of questions. You have to keep it simple. It's a long season and you have to try not to get distracted. There's gonna be a lot of noise if he keeps this up. You just have to do the work."
Although most of Alonso's home-run and home-run-adjacent metrics are in would-be career-best positions, we do feel obligated to note that he's actually converted a higher percentage of fly balls into home runs than his current 23.5% share. During his first season in the majors, when he homered 53 times to eclipsed Judge's rookie record, Alonso delivered a home run on 24.7% of his fly balls.
So, while the odds are very much against Alonso keeping up this home run rate and joining Judge in the 60-homer club, he's demonstrated before in his career that he has the kind of strength and feel for the barrel that could keep things interesting.