In talks with five talent evaluators, none of which work for the Yankees or Mets, three said they would bet long term on the MLB career of Pete Alonso over Aaron Judge.
"Right now, I'd take Alonso," a recent hitting instructor turned scout told me. "Like most of the league's power hitters, they both use the popular ferris wheel swing, inside out style, but Alonso tends to square up better and often faster."
"Judge gets his bat in the zone incredibly fast, too, but because of his size he doesn't always get on plane with the pitch," another talent evaluator explained. "Alonso can make lightening fast adjustments because his wrists and hands are so damn quick to the ball."
Judge, 27, grabbed national attention and countless headlines in 2017, during which he hit 52 home runs, won the American League Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger Award, made the All Star team and received MVP votes. In 2018, he picked up where he left off the previous year but missed a large chunk of the season with a fractured bone in his wrist.
Judge missed more time this season with a strained oblique, but has returned strong -- hitting two home runs and batting .300 since being activated from the injured list.
Meanwhile, the rookie Alonso, 24, is currently second in the National League with 28 homers, which puts him on pace for 53, exactly one shy of Judge's total during his rookie campaign two years ago.
In late May, Alonso tied Mark McGwire's rookie record for most home runs hit before June 1. Interestingly, all five talent evaluators I talked with used McGwire as a swing comparison for Alonso.
"Judge, like Alex Rodriguez, has an ideal hitting posture, reach is smooth, all tilt no turn," one scout explained. "Alonso is very reminiscent of the big hitters from the 1990s. I see a lot of McGwire, who wasn't always technically the same each time yet he demolished the ball during his entire career. Their swings are not the same -- aside from where they start their hands -- but Mark also generated a lot of drive by how he snapped his hands and wrists and it somoetimes didn't matter what he did with his body before making contact with the ball."
"This kid [Alonso] has a similar type of whip with his hands, which was sharp and explosive," he concluded.
In 2017, Judge won the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game.
Alonso will represent the Mets during the same event this year in Cleveland.
"I enjoyed it and I'd recommend it for him," Judge said earlier this season when asked by Newsday if he thought Alonso should take part in the derby. "He's going to do pretty well in it."
The concern among fans is that the Home Run Derby can throw a hitter off pace and ruin the trajectory of their season. However, as David Lennon of Newsday recently pointed out, there is no evidence to support this concern and we need not look any further than Judge -- who hit one home run every 2.8 games before the Derby then one home run every 3.2 games the rest of the season.
"I wouldn't worry about Pete's swing in that event," an AL talent evaluator that has recently studied both Judge and Alonso told me. "He'll crush before that thing, during it, and after it and in his sleep."
It is many of the above reasons why Bobby Valentine predicted to me earlier this season that we would see Alonso avoid painful slumps. He consistently gets to -- and stays in on -- breaking balls, changeups and splitters, all of which he has continued to hit hard even if on the ground for a quick out. The point is, unlike Judge or even Giancarlo Stanton, Alonso has so far shown an ability to hold his own against all types of pitchers.
Alonso further proved this point when he explained to the NY Post in May that, while he respects Judge, he and the Yankee slugger have very different mechanics at the plate. Instead, Alonso has tried to model himself after Cardinals 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who is a terrific player, but has never hit for the type of power being generated by Alonso.
In either case, be it Judge, Goldschmidt or someone else, it really doesn't matter at this point. Because it's quite clear by the player comparisons, endless scouting reports, how he approaches his at-bats, how he hits and how believes in himself, that Alonso is not just in the middle of a legendary rookie season, but at the start of what looks like a great career. And, even if he doesn't shatter league records, he's clearly going to make a mark on Mets fans, New York City and, of all people, Aaron Judge...
"The spark he's been giving the city, you can see that. He's fun to watch," Judge said this past weekend, according to Newsday. "Every time he comes to the plate, you tune in, you can't leave your seat."
He's right. The fact is, during my 35 years going to Mets games, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and the 2015 version of Yoenis Cespedes are the only hitters I've ever seen in person that repeatedly created the type of must-see at-bats where fans would leave a line for the restroom or beer to be sure they had a view of the batter's box. Alonso is not quite at that level, but he's close, which is amazing given the fact that he's just 86 games into his career.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!