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Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: YONDER ALONSO

Daniel Murphy nods his head in understanding approval when he watched Oakland A's first baseman Yonder Alonso these days.  Just like with Alonso, Murphy was long a high average/no power hitter whose value in fantasy baseball was quite nil as he approached 30.  Then Murphy went to work on his swing and stance by the plate with renowned hitting coach Kevin Long and immediately the power began to flow during the 2015 New York Mets postseason run.  That power carried over into 2016 as Murphy went from a 10-home run guy to a 25-homer batting champ with the Washington Nationals which validated his new approach and made it plausible that such a jump in that category could take place in the middle of a career.

With that said, we bring you the 2017 version of Alonso who has become the talk of fantasy baseball in coming off a 2-homer game Tuesday that upped his season total in that category to 11 to go with 27 RBI and a .309 average.  Consider that the previous season high for the 30-year-old Alonso was just 9 and it adds to the ridiculousness of what we are seeing.  So the questions are now being asked of Alonso like they were with Murphy last season.  Is the power legit or just a short-term fluke?

Well in digging in on this, we first must note that Alonso was once a top prospect who was the seventh overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft.  Alas Alonso began to show himself as a decent hitter average-wise but who supplied very poor power for the first base position.  This made Alonso unattractive as a starting first baseman given how much power is required of the position and so he made his way to Cincy, San Diego, and now Oakland.  Alonso began to tinker with his approach during this past winter though, moving himself a bit further back from the plate and aiming to elevate the baseball more in order to save his fledgling career.  The results have been spectacular to say the least and so Alonso needs to be owned and started in all fantasy baseball formats.  What is truly remarkable here is that Alonso has upped his fly ball percentage from 33.3 in 2016 to this season's 50.7.  Want more?  How about Alonso going from a 44.1 ground ball percentage last season to this year's 26.0.  So Alonso is making the jump to pure slugger and not the slap hitter he was disguised as a first baseman prior.  Yes one month-plus is a small sample size but Alonso may very well be the next Murphy to make this unexpected leap.  The advanced numbers back things up here and that adds to the validity of what he is doing so far.  We will soon find out of Alonso can keep it going.


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