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KANSAS CITY —Pete Alonso entered the 2019 season just hoping to find his way onto the Mets roster out of spring training.
Well, he made the roster, and has since become the greatest rookie slugger in the history of the National League.
Alonso hit his 40th homer during the Mets’ 11-5 win over the Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, breaking a tie with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who set the previous mark in 2017. Alonso now needs just two more homers to set the Mets’ single-season record, and 13 more to break Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge’s MLB rookie record.
“It’s crazy. I don’t even know,” Alonso said after his homer off Jakob Barnes. “... I didn’t know if I was going to make the team or not, and to break this record and have a good season and keep playing the way I’ve been playing and help this team win. The season has been unbelievable, a dream come true. I want to keep building off it and help the team win.”
Mets officials knew Alonso possessed great power, but even the most optimistic Mets executive did not see this kind of season coming.
Alonso has been one of the game’s premier sluggers in his first season, and has a legitimate chance to lead the league in homers. He already is the reigning Home Run Derby champion, and has set numerous records.
His 40th blast came Sunday when Barnes elevated a 93-mph fastball in an 0-2 count, but he didn’t get the pitch in far enough. Alonso pulled the pitch and drove it an estimated 418 feet to complete is 3-for-4 afternoon.
“(He did it) In a pretty grand way, that one seemed it went a long way. That’s great. He works so hard,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s never going to be satisfied. I’m sure he’ll continue what he’s doing. He’s such a harder worker and cares about the team. He plays the game the right way. We’re all happy for him.”
A family of Royals fans gave Alonso the ball, and he returned the favor by signing some memorabilia for them.
“I’m forever gracious for that,” Alonso said. “That’s really awesome they decided to do that. That’s really classy.”
It seems like a lock now that Alonso will set the Mets’ single-season record soon —currently held by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran — before setting his sights on Judge.
The Polar Bear Express isn’t slowing down.
“So many Mets greats, it’s hard to believe I’m one away from tying that. I don’t even know. It’s even more mind-boggling,” Alonso said. “I’m really grateful, thankful and happy I have this opportunity. I want to keep playing well and help this team win.”
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