ANAHEIM – Ask anyone in baseball about Yonder Alonso and they’ll tell you two things about him. He plays terrific defense at first base, and he doesn’t hit for much power.
And that’s been a knock against him, because first base is a position where you want to get some home runs.
The Alonso defense is still there, but the power that isn’t supposed to be there keeps showing up in the April of his 30th year.
Alonso hit a soaring solo homer in the sixth inning of the A’s 8-5 loss to the Angels Wednesday. It was his fourth this month, a number that is semi-remarkable given that he only had seven homers all last season for Oakland and has never reached double figures in homers in a season in his big league career.
“It’s pretty simple; I’m trying to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it,” Alonso said.
Well, it’s got to be a little more than that, surely. After all, with a season-best three RBI Wednesday, Alonso has taken over the team lead in RBI while playing in the same lineup as Khris Davis, who already has seven homers.
“He’s been real consistent, no doubt about it, using the whole field,” manager Bob Melvin said of his first baseman. “He’s certainly shown some power that he has. He takes every at-bat seriously.
“Each year he’s really starting to understand who he is as a hitter. He’s off to a good start for sure.”
Alonso has always been a line drive and gap hitter, but this season for some reason he’s been able to get more loft on the ball, which starts to explain his home run surge.
More than that, however, he’s developing into one of the A’s most dangerous hitters with men on base. He came up the first inning Wednesday with the bases loaded and he said afterward the two-run single he produced was special.
“That was a bigger hit for me than the home run,” Alonso said. “Much bigger.”
One of the reasons Melvin said Alonso is taking his at-bats more seriously is the results the A’s are seeing with Alonso up and men in scoring position. With the first-inning single, he’s 9-for-19, .474 in that situation. So while his overall average is just .266, he’s been able to make his hits count.
“My swing is what it is, and it’s all about getting a good pitch,” he said. “The two-run single was especially big there. I really want to capitalize every time I’m up there with runners in scoring position.”