Pete Alonso of the New York Mets has taken Queens, and the rest of MLB for that matter, by storm. He and Jeff McNeil have been spark plugs at the top of the Met lineup, fueling their recent resurgence.
Alonso has been having a rookie season for the ages, but something seems all to familiar about it. That is because, for the most part, it is mirroring that of his cross town rival. The comparisons to Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees‘ 2017 rookie campaign are uncanny.
Both players were well regarded prospects, and they both were ranked in the top-100 at one point prior to losing their prospect status. Alonso was ranked as high as 48th entering this season, and Judge was ranked as high as 22nd before making his MLB debut in 2016.
That being said, neither player was regarded as a franchise changing type of prospect, that the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., or Fernando Tatis Jr. garnered before their call-ups. Both players were expected to be good players and impact their teams, but not to the magnitude that they have thus far.
Additionally, neither player was a lock to make the team out of Spring Training, but they played their way onto their respective rosters. Judge struggled (.179/.263/.345) in his brief 27-game stint with the Yankees at the end of 2016, leading some to believe he may not be ready for MLB. On the other hand, Alonso almost fell victim to service-time manipulation that would have kept him in Triple-A for the first few weeks of the season before winning his Opening Day start.
Home Run Records
Both players are right handed hitters that can hit long home runs in any ballpark. This played into them both setting franchise records for home runs by a rookie. Not only that, but both set records before the All-Star break of their respective rookie seasons. They each surpassed franchise icons in the process, and both finished with 30 home runs in the first half.
On June 23rd, Pete Alonso hit his 27th home run, passing Darryl Strawberry‘s rookie record for the Mets.
Aaron Judge set the Yankees record on July 7th, 2017, passing a record held by Joe DiMaggio.
Home Run Derby
The parallels continue as the both players participated in and won the Home Run Derby in their rookie seasons. Each player was the second seed in the derby, beating an up-and-coming slugging third basemen by one home run.
Second Half Struggles
Despite having their moment in the sun, Judge and Alosno both started off slow in the second half. Judge slumped through July and August although he later revealed he was playing hurt. While there was not a terrible drop off in his home run and RBI totals (30 and 66 in 84 games vs. 22 and 48 in 71 games), his slash line took a major hit. Judge’s numbers dropped from .329/.448/.691 in the first half to .228/.391/.548 in the second half.
Alonso has been on a similar struggle. He hit 30 home runs with 68 RBI in the first half in 84 games, and has eight and 17 RBI in 28 second half games. His slash line has gone from .280/.372/.634 to .186/.333/.454.
Putting the home run numbers in a per game context, the similarities become more evident. Alonso dropped from roughly 0.36 per game to 0.29 per game (through August 12th), and Judge dropped from 0.36 per game to 0.30 per game.
Judge would eventually rebound to slash .311..463/.889 in September/October to end the regular season. He also hit 15 of his 22 second half home runs during that stretch. Meanwhile, Alonso has already started to rebound. He is slashing .270/.357/.649 with half of his second half home runs thus far in August.
August was easily the worst month of Judge’s rookie season before September/October became one of his best. It will be interesting to see how Alonso performs the rest of the way given that August is already becoming a big-time-bounce-back month for him.
The final major parallel between these two players’ rookie season is their team’s performance. During Judge’s rookie season, the Yankees had not won a playoff game in five years, and they were viewed as being one year away from serious contention.
The narrative was that 2017 would be a year of development and 2018 and beyond opening the window for this new crop of Yankee talent. Ultimately, thanks in large part to Judge, they won 92 games and were one win away from the World Series.
As for Alonso, the Mets have finished below .500 in each of the previous two seasons after their World Series run and Wild Card appearance in 2015-2016. Despite a some rough stretches during the season, that narrative appears to be changing.
The Mets have come alive, and currently sit one game back of a Wild Card spot. Their current winning percentage (.517) suggests that they are on pace to win about 84 games.
It should also be noted that both players played with Todd Frazier during their rookie seasons, a minor yet intriguing similarity.
It is intriguing how similar the rookie seasons of Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso are to each other. Judge has emerged as a face of baseball and an icon for the Yankees. Moving forward, it looks like the Mets have found their version of Judge in Alonso.
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