Here are two sentences. One of them is ridiculous. One of them is absurd. Which is which?
Number 1: Pete Alonso is in the process of hitting 46 homeruns, running in 231 runs and having an OPS + of 153 this year.
Number 2: The Mets have been in business since 1962 and have never had an MVP winner; they have actually only had 11 players who have ever placed in the top five of the MVP poll (three did it twice) and three of the DEM were pitchers.
In fact, they are both kind of ridiculous and absurd. But only one of them is a rock-solid truth: the Mets are one of only three major league teams that have never had an MVP; the other two, Tampa Bay and Arizona, saw the Mets take a 36-year lead.
Can Alonso be the one to end the Mets’ MVP drought? Well, we should probably start by gently telling the news that he probably is does not will break with 40 RBIs record that Hack Wilson alone has had since 1930 (though it is perfectly reasonable to think he could hit 46 bombs and keep his data points high all year).
“I can’t wait to return to Citi,” Alonso said Wednesday afternoon after the Mets finished rejecting the Phillies’ 9-6 at Citizens Bank Park, capturing the rubber match in a three-game series and ending their season opener. roadtrip 5-2 and setup of one of the most anticipated home openers this year Friday. “I’m all-in.”
It’s true that Friday at Citi Field starts with the long-awaited unveiling of the Tom Seaver statue, because it was Seaver who brought the Mets their first gram of legitimacy. He finished in second place after Willie McCovey in the 1969 MVP poll, where he dropped by 22 votes, which is the closest a Met has ever come to winning an MVP record.
The Mets’ trophy case is actually abundantly sprinkled with other notable pieces of hardware. Seaver, Dwight Gooden, RA Dickey and Jacob deGrom have together won seven Cy Young awards. Five Mets have won Rookie of the Year: Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (’72), Darryl Strawberry (’83), Dwight Gooden (’84) and deGrom (’14).
But the truth is, there has been a shortage of MVP level players over the years – the type who usually, but not always, wins MVP. Strawberry was probably the team’s second legitimate candidate besides Seaver, who owned the kind of skill set that wins the MVP award, and he should have won in 1988, but he shared the Mets vote with Kevin McReynolds, and so somehow Kirk Gibson and his 76 RBIs snuck in.
Sometimes you need good timing: Mike Piazza in 2000, Carlos Beltran in 2006 and David Wright in 2007 all had years in Other things years, could have worn the day and given the prize. But not in those years. And so here are the Mets, 60 years in the books, no MVPs.
Can Alonso be the first? If not this year, at some point?
Well, he has the tools. MVP voters still love flashy slugger numbers, and Alonso is capable of that. And in his fourth full year, he seems as comfortable at the record as he has ever been.
“I think I’ve learned so much my first few years,” he said late in the spring training session. “I feel like my knowledge base is bigger and my comfort level at the plate is. And I think I’ve learned that you can have a productive day and not have to hit the ball over the wall.”
Although, as it has become his latest catch-phrase…
“All homers,” he said Wednesday, “are sick.”
At some point, one would think, the probability takes over. At some point, you would think the Mets would want a player posting a 162-game campaign for the times. They’ve had plenty of those kinds of seasons out of their best pitchers; at some point, you would think one of their hits would channel ’69 Seaver or ’85 Gooden or ’18 deGrom.
Could it be Alonso? Francisco Lindor? Could it be Francisco Alvarez – tearing it up on the farm, a 1,569 OPS already in Binghamton – in a few years? Sixty years and counting. That’s ridiculous. And absurd. You could look it up… but then there is nothing to look up.