Oakland Athletics: How Yonder Alonso Ended Up In Oakland
By Will Patrone
The Oakland Athletics have been pleasantly surprised by Yonder Alonso this season. How did Alonso, the A’s lone All-Star the year, end up in Oakland?
I remember sitting in front of coaches and players from the University of Miami at Jim Morris’ summer baseball camp on campus. I played first base, and modeled my game off of Yonder Alonso. He was my role model for a baseball career that never surfaced. He walked up to our group and asked what team he’d been drafted by, since he apparently forgot. All of the kids had no idea, but I blurted out “The Cincinnati Reds!” I was so happy to answer his question, and reflecting on this memory tonight with my family sparked me to look into the path he took to end up with the Athletics.
His baseball roots actually began with ties to the A’s. Former Athletics legend Jose Canseco funded his Little League in Coral Springs, Florida. He went on to be drafted by the Twins in the 2005 amateur draft in the 16th round, but refused to sign in order to go to the University of Miami. It payed off. He led the Hurricanes to the College World Series as a freshman, leading the team in RBI’s
His professional career began in 2008 after being drafted 7th overall by the Cincinnati Reds. He rocketed through the minors, but was blocked by the surging Joey Votto from making a major impact in the majors. They moved him to left field, but did not get enough playing time to have the rookie tag removed for the following season. Alonso was shipped to San Diego with a plethora of other players for Mat Latos. The Padres immediately saw potential in Yonder, planning to start him over Anthony Rizzo before trading the recent World Series champ to Chicago. He finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting, even though he was tied for the league lead for errors.
The rest of his time in San Diego, however, was defined by stellar defense with subpar offense. The same Alonso showed up in 2016, his first full year in Oakland. According to Baseball Reference, he sported a .253/.316/.367 stat line with 7 home runs and 56 RBI. This year, he’s turned on the gas, sporting a .288/.383/.580 stat line, hitting 17 home runs and 38 RBI. Alonso currently lies in third place for the AL All-Star voting for first basemen, the only Athletics player projected to make the team.
What’s the Difference?
So what has changed? Alonso has been outspoken about his love for Oakland, and may have found a home in the league that he loves. He could stay in Oakland a while, but a selling July could mean a trade for the A’s best player. Only 30 years old and making $2.65 million, any playoff-bound team would be lucky to have a surging player help push them deeper into the playoffs. But Alonso could easily stay in Oakland for for a long time. No current playoff team has a glaring need at first base, and the only real team that could use an upgrade is the Yankees, who recently demoted Cris Carter. Knowing Beane, Alonso will most likely be gone before July 31st, but whether he’ll be in green and gold, pinstripes, or another uniform will be a big storyline for the entire league.