PORT ST. LUCIE – Pete Alonso was Aaron Judge last season. This year he wants to be Pete Alonso and Keith Hernandez.
When Mets' first baseman came to spring training last weekend, he named a Gold Glove Award as their top personal goal for 2020. On Thursday, he expanded those comments and recalled the name of a franchise icon, Hernandez.
"Keith has (11) gold gloves, he's a great first baseman, there's no denying that, and I want to be as precise as when he was in the game," said Alonso before training at Clover Park. "There are a lot of tasks on this side of the diamond and last year I felt like I was doing a great job in the big league and now I want to be great."
Alonso came to the camp last season with important questions about his defense. He won the first basic job based on his bat and broke Judge's MLB rookie record by blowing 53 Homer up. Defensively he was hardly ashamed, but at least one metric shows that he has a lot of room for improvement.
According to Fangraphs, Alonso was minus six in the DRS last season. In contrast, the NL Gold Glove winner, Anthony Rizzo, was three in the DRS.
"If anyone can, Pete can," Hernandez said in a text message to the post. "He is very committed to his job and works sincere hard. He will take the time to improve this aspect of his game. This is music to my ears."
Alonso spent the last training session out of season and in the spring with a special focus on defensive improvement. He says the work ethic has carried over to this camp.
"I feel good last year, but I know I have the potential to be great and I want to be able to benefit from it because I have a great opportunity and we have a great opportunity every day," said Alonso. "It is a privilege to be in this locker room and I just want to maximize every single moment I have here, whether it is year 1 or year 10 or year 15 or year 2. I want the same work ethic, the same intensity, every step of my career.
"I'm proud of all aspects of my game, but it's just about being locked up every day." It's just about putting together good working days, and preparation and good work before the game will help translate during the game. "
Among the current players Alonso Rizzo, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt cited as the first bases that he would like to emulate defensively. Goldschmidt is at the top of the list.
Alonso started his college career in Florida as a third baseman, but switched to the first due to injury to another player. He spent his entire minor league career on the first base.
"I will work as fine as possible, and frankly spring training is the time to make the final adjustments for the season," said Alonso. "For me, I just want to train as many kinks as possible and work smart, work hard and take all the momentum from last year this year and have a good spring and jump into the season with some momentum.
“I want to show that I am a complete player. I want to be a great base runner, I want to be a good defender. I want to be as dynamic as possible because the more dynamic I can be, the better the team can be. "