2017 A’s pre-spring training first base preview

Mar 17, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Yonder Alonso (17) at bat during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Yonder Alonso (17) at bat during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

First base may end up a bit crowded for the Athletics in 2017, but it won’t last for too long.

Here at White Cleat Beat we’ve  started doing a very preliminary pre-spring training preview of the players who are slated to play for the Oakland Athletics at each position beginning with catcher.

Now we will be moving on to the A’s potential first basemen for the 2017 season.

Of course, this is all subject to change as training camp and exhibition games begin. It’s never a guarantee that any player whether a rookie or a veteran will make the 25-man roster.

Injuries and spectacular spring performances can change things before you even see it coming. For now, however, here is a preview of what first base will probably look like.

Yonder Alonso

After the 2016 season A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso appeared to be a potential non-tender candidate with the emergence of prospects like Ryon Healy and Matt Chapman who will eventually take over full-time at first and third base.

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Luckily for Alonso the A’s still needed him for at least another year and they signed Alonso to a one-year $4.4 million deal on December 2, thus avoiding arbitration or having to simply not tender him a contract.

Alonso isn’t your stereotypical corner infielder, he doesn’t have a lot of pop in his bat, hitting just seven home runs in 2016 which was just two short of his career-high.

What Alonso does have for the Athletics is defense and a left-handed bat for their lineup. He’s not a terrible hitter but his numbers were down last season from .282/.361/.381 in 2015 while he was with the San Diego Padres to .253/.316/.367 in 2016 with Oakland.

A career .269 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .334, Alonso is capable of doing better at the plate and perhaps even returning to his 2015 form.

His defense at first, however, is likely what kept him from being non-tendered. He made just four errors in 145 games at first base and stayed healthy playing a total of 156 games over the course of the season.

He ranked second in the American League in fielding percentage with .997 and first in the A.L. in range factor per nine innings as a first baseman. He’ll be valuable to the club defensively and potentially offensively as he likely platoons at the position in 2017.

Ryon Healy

Ryon Healy is the kid you may know as the mid-July call-up (straight from Double-A Midland) who immediately became the A’s everyday third baseman in 2016, taking over for Danny Valencia.

Oakland Athletics
Trevor Plouffe. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

However, the right-handed hitting Healy won’t be playing third base this season as veteran Trevor Plouffe was signed and assigned the everyday third base duties.

Plouffe pushes Healy over into a platoon position with Alonso, which should actually work out quite well.

Plouffe is signed for just one year so as not to rush the team’s number two prospect Matt Chapman up from Triple-A Nashville.

Chapman missed his entire first year of professional ball with a knee injury and was limited to only 80 games in his second season in 2015. He still managed to lead the entire A’s farm system in home runs that year and was recently named to the all-defense team by MiLBPipeline at third base.

This makes it no surprise the A’s want him in the minors for another year, but it’s also obvious he is the third baseman of the future, meaning that Healy would have been pushed over to first regardless of Plouffe coming on board for 2017.

Oakland Athletics
Sep 15, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Ryon Healy (48) celebrates in the dugout after scoring a run against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Fortunately, Healy’s natural position is at first base and the youngster can hit for power. He hit 13 home runs in just 269 at-bats, scored 26 and drove in 37. He’s a great platoon partner for Alonso who, as noted, is a great defender but doesn’t have a lot of power.

Healy should be able to practice his defense while lending his powerful bat and runs to the club and Alonso can compliment him with his left-handed bat and superb defensive skills.

Stephen Vogt

You may also see Stephen Vogt get playing time at first base. It won’t be a regular occurrence but it won’t be an odd one either.  At 32 years old, Vogt will require a few days off from behind the plate allowing the A’s potential catcher of the future, Bruce Maxwell, time to get more acquainted with playing the position in the big leagues.

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The A’s will also want to keep Vogt’s lefty bat in the lineup as often as possible as the two-time all-star has been consistently one of the team’s most clutch and consistent hitters in the past few seasons.

In the off-chance that two of the three of these players were injured or out for any reason at a similar point during the season the team might choose to call-up their number 11th ranked prospect, first baseman Matt Olson.

He’s got that corner infielder pop in his bat and would not be a bad replacement, however, unless he has some kind of spectacular spring, don’t count on seeing him on the 25-man roster.

The A’s have first base covered for 2017 and pretty soon it will be Healy’s to take over as the A’s future first baseman.

Next: 2017 A's pre-spring catching preview

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