The Mariners traded outfielder Boog Powell to the Oakland A’s for All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso. Can they make a run with their new player?
Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto wasn’t apparently satisfied with his haul of new players at the Trade Deadline this year. Indeed, the addition of David Phelps, Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez, etc., was a little underwhelming in a league where many of the Mariners’ rivals are gearing up for a playoff push.
In comes Yonder Alonso, Oakland’s representative in the All-Star Game. Alonso in the midst of a career year. Even though he has cooled off considerably since appearing in the All-Star Game, he could help the Mariners in the stretch run.
Alonso has already smashed his previous career-high in home runs–nine, set in 2012 with San Diego–with 22 already this year, and he’s one run scored away from besting his career-high in that category as well.
The thirty-year-old, left-handed hitting first baseman is slashing .266/.369/.527 overall on the season, far above his .268/.339/.405 career batting line over eight seasons. He’s under contract until the end of this season, which mean’s he’s likely a rental unless he decides to sign with the Mariners this offseason.
How does Alonso help the Mariners right now? It’s pretty simple.
Alonso is hitting .286/.391/.557 against right-handed pitching this season. 18 of his 22 home runs have come against righties.
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Regular Mariners first baseman Danny Valencia is hitting only .258/.301/.397 with eight home runs against right-handers this year.
The hope was that Dan Vogelbach, acquired last season from the Cubs for Mike Montgomery, would help form a platoon with Valencia at first base, or possibly take over full-time duties there permanently. Vogelbach is having a successful year with Tacoma this season, but it seems manager Scott Servais and Dipoto don’t feel he’s ready to make the jump to MLB this season after all.
Valencia has been effective against lefties this year, with a .919 OPS against southpaws in 2017. Alonso has struggled against lefties, hitting a miserable .188 against them this year. Together, Alonso and Valencia form the usable platoon at first base that Servais has likely dreamt about all season.
My concern is if Alonso, who hit just one home run since July 14th after a blistering first half, can do enough to help the Mariners reach the play-offs for the first time since 2001. To his credit, Alonso took a strange trip to the big leagues, and he appears excited to join a playoff race with Seattle.