It is the eighth season for Yonder Alonso in Major League Baseball (really it’s just his sixth full season). He finished sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, but he hadn’t yet seemed to live up to his potential offensively. And he had definitely never made an appearance in the MLB All-Star Game.
Defensively he’s a complete ace as a corner infielder at first base. That was the reason that the Oakland Athletics traded Drew Pomeranz, Jose Torres and Jabari Blash for Yonder Alonso and reliever Marc Rzepczynski from the San Diego Padres.
Yet he never really put up the numbers, especially the power numbers that you’d like to see coming from your first baseman, that is until 2017. In 2016, his first year with the A’s, Alonso hit .253/.316/.367 with just seven home runs and 56 RBI over the course of the entire season.
Prior to 2016, Alonso’s career high in home runs was nine. His career high in RBI was 62. So far this season Yonder Alonso has hit 20 long balls and he already has driven in 43 runs. There is hardly a time when he is at the plate this season that he doesn’t end up on base.
Alonso’s sudden ability to hit, and hit for power (Alonso has admitted to working over the offseason to tweak his swing and change his approach at the plate), added to his already stellar defensive skills earned him a reserve spot on the 2017 American League All-Star Team.
All Yonder Alonso does is hit. He’s 2-for-2 in his first All-Star Game. This is a heck of a time for A’s first baseman.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) July 12, 2017
The game was particularly special for Alonso, on top of the fact that it was his first All-Star appearance. It was being held in his hometown of Miami where he and his parents had immigrated to from Cuba when he was a boy.
He grew up in Miami, went to high school there and attended the University of Miami. To quote CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder, “This guy couldn’t be anymore Miami.” The homecoming made each and every moment that much more special for Alonso.
Alonso entered the 88th MLB All-Star game defensively in the fourth inning and got his first at-bat in the sixth. Facing the Arizona Diamondback’s starter Zack Greinke, Alonso hit a bloop single but was ultimately left on base by his American League teammates.
Alonso’s second at-bat came in the top of the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ superstar closer Kenley Jansen. Alonso singled to right on a first pitch 92.8 MPH slider.
Then in a somewhat strange and definitely surprising move with Nelson Cruz at the plate, Alonso stole second base. He only has a single stolen base all season.
Unfortunately he was once again stranded on base but there was a lot of that going around in this year’s All-Star Game. Each team left eight runners on base.Despite not scoring a run, going 2-for-2 with a stolen base in the All-Star Game is quite a feat. It’s a feat so rare, at least in the A’s organization, that it had not been done by a member of the team since Rickey Henderson went 2-for-2 with a stolen base way back in the 1982 mid-summer classic.
That is some pretty special company to be in, it was a pretty special performance to make in front of the entire nation and it was an especially important performance for Alonso being in his hometown of Miami, surrounded by his friends and family, including brother in law Manny Machado, the third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles.
He shined on the national stage but more importantly he made his homecoming incredibly special for himself, the A’s fans and especially for his family.
The American League ended up winning the game 2-1 in 10 innings. It was it’s fifth straight victory over the National League.