Yonder Alonso has had a peculiar 2014 season to go along with an under-the-radar last month. The San Diego Padres first baseman is hitting just .220 for the season to go with five home runs, 18 runs scored, 20 RBIs and five stolen bases. In the last month, though (dating back to May 8), Alonso is hitting .266 to go with all five of his home runs, 11 runs, 14 RBIs and three steals.
Prior to May 8, Alonso’s 2014 season had been a disaster. From opening day through May 7, Alonso hit just .162 to go with no home runs, seven runs, six RBIs, two steals and just seven total extra base hits. Why was he so bad at the start of the season? Should we be buying his recent turnaround? Alonso was just added in my hometown league; is it time you consider rostering the first baseman in yours?
There are two key differences that stand out to me between the Alonso we saw in the beginning of the year and the Alonso who’s been raking for the last month.
1). His BABIP.
Alonso was extremely unlucky on balls in play early on this season. For his career, the Padres first baseman has a .304 BABIP, but from opening day through May 7 his BABIP was a shockingly low .186. From May 8 through yesterday (June 9) Alonso had a BABIP of .263. Aaron Hill, in 2010, was the only hitter to finish a season with a sub-.200 BABIP in the last ten years; the odds that Alonso’s remained that low were pretty slim.
2). He’s back to hitting fastballs.
Heading into 2014, Alonso had a career .311 batting average against fastballs to go with a .147 ISO. From the start of the season through May 7, Alonso was hitting just .207 against heaters to go with a .069 ISO. Since May 8, though, Alonso is hitting .333 against fastballs to go with a .250 ISO.
Now let me be clear; Yonder Alonso isn’t all of a sudden going to blossom into a top-10 first baseman — frankly he’s probably not going to approach the top-15 — but I’m buying the improvements we’ve seen over the last month. If you need corner infield help in a deeper league, he’s a guy you should consider.