For hitters this year, we’re going to bring back the playing time element by projecting PA. RotoChamp does not include PA, so their entry will be AB + BB. Along with that will be the triple-slash line of AVG/OBP/SLG. There are five categories for pitchers so to bring it in line with the hurlers, let’s do raw HR, since most people seem to be concerned about how many homers this year’s Mets will hit. We’ll start things off with Pete Alonso. Here’s what the computer models forecast for him this season:
ATC – 656 PA, .264/.349/.516, 38 HR
THE BAT – 671 PA, .264/.350/.508, 38 HR
Marcel – 606 PA, .261/.340/.490, 32 HR
RotoCH – 651 PA, .265/.349/.525, 41 HR
Steamer – 649 PA, .261/.347/.520, 39 HR
ZiPS – 647 PA, .261/.349/.515, 38 HR
The longer a player has been in the league, the more likely his computer forecasts will be similar. And you can’t get much more agreement than you see with the Alonso forecasts. The only outlier is Marcel, which seemingly makes no adjustment for the shortened season in 2020.
One thing we need to discuss is how consistent Alonso has been in the BABIP category. Discounting the Covid year, Alonso has been in the majors for three full seasons and his BABIP numbers have been .280, .274 and .279 last year. That’s remarkable consistency. And in the past two seasons, he’s gotten off to good starts in the category, only to fall back to what we now have to consider his personal rate.
The league may have a rate near .300 but individuals can and do have different personal rates. A .300 BABIP would be a below-average mark for Jeff McNeil but it would be a nice season for Alonso. That’s not to say Alonso can’t do it. Rather, if he does put up a .300 BABIP, it should be considered a good mark for him in the category.
Additionally, Alonso’s walk rate has been between 9.8 and 10.4% each of his three years in the majors. It’s no wonder there’s such agreement on his AVG and OBP among the models.
We see more variance in the SLG but even there it’s only a 17-point difference between the low and high marks for the non-Marcel systems. In the Christmas Wishes column, my gift to Alonso was an end to his declining HR/FB rate. His 19.0% mark was the 13th-best in the majors last year. It’s just that when he made his debut in 2019, it was 30.6%. But the projection models essentially agree on his HR, too.
Alonso has been a good Met and a guy who’s tremendously fun to root for, given his raw power. Yet it’s reasonable to ask if we’ve seen the best he’s going to do, given his consistency in BABIP and BB%, along with declining HR/FB rates.
He put up a 4.0 fWAR last year, which is a really good mark. But how much better can he do? For a comparison, Freddie Freeman has topped Alonso’s career-best of 4.4 – done in his rookie season – six times, including a 7.1 mark last season. Does Alonso have a 5.0 fWAR in him, much less a 7.1 mark?
THE BAT projects Alonso with a 4.5 fWAR, the highest of the four systems on FanGraphs, with an improvement in his defensive numbers helping to drive the forecast. This will be Alonso’s age-28 season, meaning he’s in the heart of his prime right now. Will Alonso break thru to a new level in 2023? Here’s my totally biased projection:
645 PA, .270/.355/.530, 41 HR