In 2019, a home run slugger emerged from the lesser of the two New York baseball teams. In Flushing, Queens, Pete Alonso was crushing home run balls at a clip the world hadn’t seen from a Mets player ever. The Mets rookie first baseman’s home run totals soared as high as his longballs that season, eventually breaking the MLB rookie season home run record, with 53 bombs.
That record-breaking 53rd home run put Alonso ahead of the former rookie leader, Aaron Judge of the crosstown rival New York Yankees.
Aaron Judge’s first go-round in the MLB wasn’t much to shake a stick at. Instead, Gary Sanchez stole the show late in the 2016 season, as Judge hovered near the Mendoza line. Not to be outdone by Sanchez, Judge showed up ready to rock and roll in 2017, and he never looked back.
How good was he as a rookie? Aaron Judge should have won the AL MVP in 2017. That’s how good he was. And I know full well that I’m saying that without even considering how the Astros sign-stealing scandal could have helped Jose Altuve earn the hardware. Giancarlo Stanton won the 2017 NL MVP with numbers comparable to Judge. Sure, Joey Votto can contest that win if he wants, but still, Judge’s 2017 was insane.
Take a look at these numbers.
Aaron Judge was the King of New York. That was an undisputed fact in 2017, and even in 2018, despite struggling to maintain his rookie stats.
The player with his own seating section in Yankee Stadium was the toast of the town. Plain and simple. That is until Pete Alonso burst onto the scene.
The Polar Bear
Pete Alonso brought two things to Queens in his rookie season.
First, is the Rookie Home Run Record, as Pistol Pete bashed 53 longballs this season.
Pete Alonso kicked the door down in April after the Mets made the right decision of putting him on the Opening Day roster. Smashing an incredible .292/.382/.642, with a 1.006 OPS, the Mets seemed to have found the home run hitter of the future on their doorstep.
While the Mets continued to disappoint throughout the season, the Flushing Faithful were given something to cheer for on a nightly basis. As the Mets fell from the wild card race, Pete Alonso found himself with 42 home runs and the chance to take a record from the Bronx.
With Aaron Judge‘s Rookie Record 52 Home Run’s looming in the distance, Alonso got to work. In true Mets fashion, waiting until the second to last game, Pete Alonso broke Judge’s record, by sending an absolute moonshot to dead center field.
In (another) season of broken promises and shattered dreams, Pete Alonso gave Mets fans something to cheer about, something to be proud about, and something to lord over Yankee fans for years to come.
Pete Alonso is the most prolific Rookie home run hitter to ever live as of right now. And besides having his name in the record books, he’ll get some hardware to show off as well.
In a season filled with highs and lows, the New York Mets found their newest hero, and he brought the loudest, most powerful bat. The Mets are the perennial little brother to the Yankees, but for one season, they had the upper hand.
Pete Alonso was the toast of the town that year, and Mets fans were beginning to feel like they had the King of New York dressing in their colors once again. For the first time in years, the Mets felt like they had New York in their grasp.
Cut to the 2020 Season
I’m gonna show you guys a video. As a Mets fan, it hurts my heart, but as a baseball fan, it drops my jaw. Because in case you didn’t know, Aaron Judge is on fire right now.
As of publication, Judge leads the MLB in Runs, RBIs, Home Runs, Slugging Percentage, and OPS. Even Judge’s OPS+ is astronomical at 249. Now the sample size is small, FOR SURE, but that doesn’t discredit the fact that Aaron Judge is taking back the keys to the city and he’s doing it loudly.
As Alonso slumps into this sophomore season, and the Mets spiral out of control, Judge and the Yankees are putting on a masterclass in small season baseball. I mean, we’re less than a quarter of the way through the season and the Yankees have lost a single game. That loss came from Jame Paxton’s inability to handle the bottom of the Nationals order.
In this shortened season, the Yankees have just started the season with what equates to a 19-3 record if we were playing 162 games, and thanks to Judge they’ve done it with fireworks. Even in a game on national television, where they found themselves tied with their hated rival Boston Red Sox, the Yankees and Judge refused to lose.
Sure the MLB is pumping crowd noise into stadiums this season, but you could argue that those cheers heard after Judge goes yard are from Yankee fans across NYC. The Judge has returned to the top of the New York sports mountain.
And it’ll be hard to knock him off his throne.