2019 is a great baseball year for anyone who is a fan of home runs.
Unless that person is also a fan of the San Francisco Giants, of course, because their home run leaders (Brandon Belt, Kevin Pillar, and Pablo Sandoval) are tied for 130th in the league.
Thankfully, this article is not about the Giants. It’s about Pete Alonso.
On Saturday, the New York Mets dinger-mashing rookie first baseman hit his 26th home run of the year. And along the way he set some records.
The 26 home runs is the most that a National League rookie has ever had by the All-Star break. New York still has 13 games left before the All-Star break begins.
He also tied the great Daryl Strawberry for most Mets home runs by a rookie. In an entire season.
It’s just a little bit insane.
Barring some serious regression, Alonso will roll right through 41 home runs, which happens to be the franchise record for a season.
Again, he’s a rookie. A rookie who was drafted only three years ago.
Alonso’s rise to home run prominence is representative of a league-wide trend. Teams are prioritizing home runs, and that is being emphasized at the lower levels.
Through launch angles and batting philosophies, hitters are beginning to load up, and, as a result, some are seemingly turning into epic power hitters overnight.
Alonso is hitting home runs in his first year in the Majors at a rate he never accomplished in the Minors. But he’s not alone. Across the city, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs as a rookie in 2017 - a far higher rate than he had accomplished in the minors. That same year, Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger hit 39 home runs as a rookie - again, a more prolific dinger season than his minor league profile ever showed.
The exciting moral of the story: You never know where your next 40 or 50-home run hitter is going to come from.
But for now, the next one appears to be Alonso, who is hitting the ball over the fence at a rate that we’ve rarely ever seen from a rookie.
And it sure is fun to watch.