PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso was Aaron Judge last season. This year he wants to be Pete Alonso and Keith Hernandez.
In arriving to spring training last weekend, the Mets first baseman cited a Gold Glove award as a top personal goal for 2020. On Thursday, he expanded on those comments, evoking the name of a franchise icon, Hernandez.
“Keith has got (11) Gold Gloves, he is a great first baseman, there is no denying that and I want to be as fine-tuned as he was when he was in the game,” Alonso said before a workout at Clover Park. “There’s a lot of responsibilities on that side of the diamond and last year I feel like I did a good job of learning on the big league level and now I want to be great.”
Alonso arrived to camp last season with significant questions about his defense. He won the starting first base job based on his bat and proceeded to break Judge’s MLB rookie record by blasting 53 homers. Defensively he hardly embarrassed himself, but at least one metric shows he’s got plenty of room for improvement.
According to Fangraphs, Alonso was minus-six in DRS (defensive runs saved) last season. In contrast, NL Gold Glove winner Anthony Rizzo was plus-three in DRS.
“If anybody can do it, Pete can,” Hernandez said in a text message to The Post. “He’s very dedicated at his profession and is a sincerely hard worker. He’ll put the time in to improve this aspect of his game. This is music to my ears.”
Alonso spent last offseason and spring training putting extra emphasis on improving defensively. He says that work ethic has carried over into this camp.
“I feel like I was good last year, but I know I have the potential to be great and I want to be able to capitalize on it, because I have a great opportunity and we have a great opportunity every single day,” Alonso said. “It’s a privilege to be in this locker room and I just want to maximize every single moment I have here, whether it’s Year 1 or Year 10 or Year 15 or Year 2. I want to take that same work ethic, that same intensity, every single step of my career.
“I take pride in all aspects of my game, but it’s just a matter of staying locked in on a day-to-day basis. It’s just all about putting together good days of work, and the preparation and the good work early before the game is going to help translate during the game.”
Among current players, Alonso cited Rizzo, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt as first basemen he would like to emulate defensively. Goldschmidt, he says, is at the top of the list.
Alonso began his collegiate career at Florida as a third baseman, but shifted to first because of an injury to another player. He spent his entire minor league career at first base.
“I am going to work as finely as possible, and honestly spring training is that time to make those final adjustments going into the season,” Alonso said. “For me I just want to work out as many kinks as possible and work smart, work hard, and take all the momentum from last year into this year and have a good spring and leapfrog into the season with some momentum.
“I want to show 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 I can, because the more dynamic I can be, the better the team can be.”