Pete Alonso says Mets' success -- not his own -- will define his legacy in Queens

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – It’s clear that if Pete Alonso remains a Met after this season and continues to pummel home runs the way he has in his young career, he’ll ascend to some pretty rarefied places in Mets lore. He might eventually be known as the best position player in club history.

So, recently at Mets camp, we asked Alonso if he’s thought about that idea as he enters what is obviously a pivotal year in his career (The slugging first baseman, you might have heard, will be a free agent after the 2024 season). Or if anyone ever brings up that concept to him. 

"No, no one's really asked me about it," Alonso said. "I just show up and play. I work hard and just want to be all I can be every single day. Wherever I am on lists or record books, it’s honestly really nice. It’s really cool. But the thing that I really care the most about is having a positive impact on my teammates and having a great relationship with the people who I see and work with every day. 

"I love going to play every single night with this group and representing the city."

Fair enough. But a little deeper into a conversation about team history, when some of the boldface Met names are mentioned to him, Alonso allows that he looks at players such as David Wright, Carlos Beltrán and others and thinks about them in a certain way. 

Not where they might fall in any franchise ranking. "Not their numbers, but what I look at is the role they played on each team," Alonso said. "Obviously, David was extremely influential here, being the captain and being on different playoff teams. And in that World Series run in 2015. I mean, he’s obviously huge.

"Carlos, just super influential and just an incredible, incredible player here. Those guys mean so much to so many people because they were part of teams that won. And, obviously, Straw (Darryl Strawberry), as well. 

"Straw, Keith (Hernandez) and HoJo (Howard Johnson), the common denominator with those guys is that they were parts of absolute epic teams and epic runs and a part of great seasons and that's what people love. People don't just remember the individual performances. They remember the team effort. They remember the experience of what it was like having those special star players and then also experiencing those awesome winning seasons."

That, Alonso says, is what he wants. "I want to be on a team like that," he said. "2022 was so incredible because so many people were kept captivated and just so enthralled and super prideful of not just being a New Yorker, but being a Mets fan as well. That’s what I want to do, every single day.

"Having a taste of that, and then also having a taste of the WBC (the 2023 World Baseball Classic, when Alonso was on runner-up Team USA), playing in those high-leverage games, those meaningful games. That’s what, as a kid, you dream about. As a big leaguer, that’s what you work for. That’s what you strive for during the regular season. 

"You want to be in that moment, because that’s what this is all for."

Feb 26, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) stands on second base after hitting a ground rule double in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches.

Alonso, 29, avoided arbitration with the Mets by agreeing to a deal for $20.5 million for this year. He’s likely headed for a big payday in free agency after this season, whether it comes from the Mets or another team. Alonso says he’s focused on the season, not his next contract. 

"All the other stuff will take care of itself, shake itself out in the offseason," he said.

Alonso has already constructed a terrific baseball resume, which is why he could even be asked about one day being considered the best position player Met, a title that now might depend on each fan’s personal preference. Straw? The Captain? Mike Piazza? Beltrán? Someone else? (Let’s all agree that Tom Seaver probably retired the title of Greatest Met Overall).

But since Alonso debuted in 2019, he’s hit more home runs than anyone in MLB – 192. It’s all the more impressive considering that another player – Aaron Judge – hit 62 in a single season during that span.

Alonso is currently tied for fourth on the Mets’ all-time homer list with Johnson. Alonso will pass HoJo with his first long ball this year and (barring injury) likely rocket past Piazza (220 homers with the Mets), too.

Heck, if Alonso goes bonkers this season, he could even pass Wright (242) for second place. Alonso has hit 50-plus in a season before – an MLB-rookie record 53 in 2019. Strawberry is the franchise leader with 252 career home runs.

Alonso is also 10th in Mets annals in RBI (498) and if he knocks in at least 117 runs this year, he’ll pass José Reyes and Cleon Jones (521 each), Edgardo Alfonzo (538), Beltran (559) and Ed Kranepool (614) and vault into fifth. Wright is the Mets’ all-time RBI leader with 970.

If Alonso signs with the Mets long-term, how could he not obliterate both team records? He is one of four Mets with an NL home run crown – Dave Kingman, Strawberry and Johnson are the others – and he and HoJo are the only Mets to win an NL RBI title. Alonso holds the top two spots on the club’s single-season home run list and is the only Met with more than one 40-homer season. He has three (so far).

And wedged among all those flashy stats is this – Alonso has played in 684 of a possible 708 games since he debuted. So he’s been in the Met lineup 96.6 percent of the time.

He’s working to continue to be durable. "I want to be excellent and ready," he said. "And from then on, it’s chip away and see what we can do to get ourselves in position to play in the postseason, whether that be winning the division, getting a Wild Card spot, however we can get there. And once we get there, the next stage is, survive and advance."

Because, Alonso notes, anything can happen.

"I mean, in '22, no one thought the Phillies were gonna go on that run (to the World Series), right? And, obviously, the Phillies went on another great run (to Game 7 of the 2023 NLCS). And then you look at the Diamondbacks playing in the World Series last year.

"It’s just, you never know what can happen in October. And that’s why you fight 162 games to give yourself a chance to play.”