Baseball’s home run derby is the centerpiece of the activities leading up to the MLB All-Star game each July. It’s contested the night before the All-Star Game and showcases the power of some of the game’s biggest stars. Some sluggers — like the Yankees’ Aaron Judge — prefer not to participate in the derby because of injury concerns or other reasons. But a young player on New York’s other team — Pete Alonso of the Mets — wants to take some hacks at the derby if he is extended an invitation.
Pete Alonso’s rookie season
Mets 1B Pete Alonso had a strong spring training and ended up landing one of the final spots on the team’s major league roster entering the regular season. While the Mets haven’t been playing well early in the season, Alonso is putting up good numbers and has been one of the team’s few bright spots at the plate. In his first 45 games, he was hitting .258 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs; he was leading the team in those latter two categories. With the power he’s showing, Alonso may be a good player to take part in the home run derby.
Alonso wants to be in the home run derby
In an interview with the New York Post, Pete Alonso said he wants to take part in this year’s Home Run Derby in Cleveland, saying that he “would love to do it” and he thinks that it “would be fun, a real amazing thing to do.” He went on to say that he hasn’t heard anything about being invited yet, but that he “would be honored to do it for sure.”
Alonso seems to be brushing off any injury concerns and just wants to be in the derby because he thinks it would be fun, and he may not have many chances to do it in the future:
“I think it’s one of those things if you have a chance to do it and you haven’t done it before, why not do it? You only live once.”
And he would likely do well if he got a chance to be in the derby. He is in the top five in the majors with 17 home runs as of May 27. And with stars like Judge not lobbying to be in the derby, having Alonso do it would help MLB potentially build another star in New York.
What MLB is doing to convince players to enter the derby
Major League Baseball officials want to have as much star power as possible in the derby, so they have announced some changes to the event starting this year. In the past, the winner would receive $150,000, but MLB is raising the stakes this time around and making the grand prize $1 million, with the overall prize pool coming in at $2.5 million. Alonso’s salary this season is $555,000, so winning the million could be enticing to the rookie, who has yet to sign a big-money, long-term contract.
Could the Mets prevent Alonso from participating?
With players, like Judge, having a subpar second half of the season after participating in the home run derby, teams may be reluctant to let their players partake in the festivities. Could the Mets try to keep Alonso out of the event, even if he wanted to do it? Mets manager Mickey Callaway seems to be open to the idea, telling the Post that “it would be something cool for [Alonso] to experience.” Callaway went on to say that it would be hard to tell Alonso he can’t do it, especially with $1 million going to the winner.
However, the Mets ultimately call the shots on what to do with their players. And as a rookie, albeit a standout one so far, Pete Alonso doesn’t have as much clout within the organization as some other stars do.