Oakland A’s history: Yonder Alonso’s sudden power surge

Power was never a consideration when it came to Yonder Alonso. Then, in 2017, everything changed for the Oakland A’s first baseman.

The Oakland A’s knew exactly what they were getting in Yonder Alonso after trading for his services. He was a good defensive player, a switch hitter who hit line drives into the gaps, but was not anything resembling a power threat. For the A’s, as long as he continued to provide solid defense and produce doubles, that was all that was needed.

That was exactly the player Alonso was in 2016, his first season in Oakland. In 532 plate appearances, he produced a .253/.316/.367 batting line, hitting 34 doubles and seven homers. Alonso struck out just 74 times while drawing 45 walks, and saved two runs defensively. He was what the A’s thought he was.

After the 2016 season, Alonso made some changes. He became a proponent of the fly ball revolution, changing his swing to put more air under the ball. Suddenly, he became a surprise power threat for the A’s, even making his first All Star Game.

With the A’s going nowhere in 2017, Alonso became a viable trade target. He ended up being dealt to the Mariners on August 6 for Boog Powell, a player the A’s had previously drafted. In his 371 plate appearances for Oakland that year, Alonso had a .266/.369/.527 batting line, slugging 22 homers and 17 doubles.

From that point, Alonso has been a bit of a baseball nomad. He left the Mariners in free agency, signing a two year deal with the Indians. He was still hitting for more power than usual in Cleveland, with 23 homers, but struggled everywhere else. That offseason, he was dealt to the White Sox as part of their failed pursuit of Manny Machado. After struggling in Chicago, he was released by the White Sox, and eventually picked up by the Rockies.

Now, Alonso is looking to resurrect his career once again. He signed a minor league deal with the Braves, presumably looking to fill in occasionally for Freddie Freeman while serving as a pinch hitter.

While the A’s sold high on Alonso, they did not get much of a return either. Powell had some decent moments, but had a grand total of 117 major league plate appearances before being let go. In that time, he produced a respectable .286/.342/.488 batting line with three homers and six doubles.

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For one year, Yonder Alonso was a surprise. The Oakland A’s traded him at the right time.

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