MMO Mailbag: Alonso Soaring, Rosario Grounded

The New York Mets are a little more than one month into this baseball season, and there have been many storylines which have emerged.  Recently, one of the storylines has been how their young players, have been performing.  Right now, their battle to become the Mets first baseman of the future has intensified.  While this has been heating up, we have seen the Mets shortstops in the majors and Triple-A falter a bit.  With this being one of the early storylines in 2018, this edition of the mailbag focuses on what is happening at both the shortstop and first base positions:

@markchealey says . . .

This is probably going to irritate some people, but I’m not impressed with Rosario quite yet.  Nothing special in the field.  Weak at-bats.

John S. replies . . .

Like many fans, my first reaction was to be completely dumbfounded on how anyone could say something like this about Amed Rosario.  After some thought, there is some merit to the statement.

Taking the points in reverse order, Rosario’s biggest issue is plate discipline.  In his brief Major League career, Rosario has a 2.7 percent walk rate. That’s unfathomably bad.

In addition to that, Rosario is striking out in 28 percent of his plate attempts.  That’s not 2.7 percent walk rate bad, but yes, that’s really bad.

Basically, Rosario is going up there, and he is swinging at everything.  Since he’s not Ichiro Suzuki or Vladimir Guerrero, Rosario has been terrible at the plate hitting just .226/.270/.310, and he still has not hit a home run this year.  It doesn’t matter how good your defense is, you need to hit better than that.

Even with Rosario having the tools to be a Gold Glove winner, he is at a -2 DRS this season.  Yes, Rosario is an immense upgrade from what the Mets had at shortstop last year, but if he is going to hit like this, he’s going to need to be in Andrelton Simmons or Rey Ordonez territory.  Even then it may be difficult to justify playing him every day.

Now, please be cautioned here.  No one is calling Rosario a bust, especially not me.  Rosario is still immensely talented and has all the tools to be a great, not a good, Major League player.  He’s just not that player yet, and there really doesn’t seem to be an easy solution because the Mets can’t play Jose Reyes every day, Luis Guillorme is struggling offensively in Las Vegas, and Gavin Cecchini is not a shortstop.

Peter Alonso

TheMetsGet100 asks . . .

Is Alonso ready for Triple-A?

John S. replies . . .

This is not going to be a popular answer, but we are going to need to see more than one month like this from Peter Alonso before moving him up from Binghamton to Las Vegas.

Heading into this season, Alonso had to address many areas of his game.  He had a 7.4 percent career walk rate.  Last year, he hit .254/.317/.467 off right-handed pitching including a .286/.310/.607 stretch in 11 games in Binghamton at the end of last year.  He was a really poor defender at first base with a .972 fielding percentage last year.  Finally, he was a bit injury prone after suffering fractures in consecutive years.

So far this year, he has been a completely different player.  He’s been healthy and much improved defensively.  Alonso is also drawing a walk in 20 percent of his plate appearances, and mostly, he is just destroying the baseball.

On the season, Alonso is hitting .400/.500/.788 with seven doubles, eight homers, and 22 RBI.  As noted by MMN/MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Alonso leads all of baseball with a 264 wRC+.  Of course, in order to do that, you have to hit both right and left-handed pitching.  Alonso is doing just that hitting .400/.493/.800 off right-handed pitching.

If you break it down, Alonso is just a different player than the guy he has been in his first two seasons.  If this is real, he’s not just easily supplanting Dominic Smith as the Mets first baseman of the future, he’s a Top 100 prospect and future All-Star.

But you know what?  It’s only been a month, and much of what he is doing is fueled by a .438 BABIP.  If you extrapolate what he’s done so far over a 162 game season, he’s on a 52 double and 59 home run pace.  Unless he’s now 2002 Barry Bonds, he’s going to cool off, and his stats are going to stabilize.

Before making any decisions on either moving him up to Triple-A and/or forever pushing Smith aside, let’s see what Alonso looks like when this insane hot streak is over. Let’s see if he continues the same approach even when he struggles or if he reverts to some old bad habits.

Maybe at that point, we can say he should be in Triple-A.  With the way things are going with Adrian Gonzalez, we may even see Alonso finish the year in the majors.

However, right now, he belongs in Double-A where he can not only continue to improve his overall game, but the Mets can figure out how to handle their first base situation for 2018 and beyond.

* * * * * * * *

Hopefully, you enjoyed this mailbag as much as I enjoyed answering your questions. Keep the questions and comments coming and make sure to send them to AskMMO@metsmerizedonline.com

About John Sheridan 531 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.