One series, one win, a grand total of four runs separating the Cleveland Indians from a sweep. That’s how the Tribe’s first series of the season went against the Seattle Mariners. There was a lot of good, and a bit of bad, but none of it is worth overreacting to after 1.9 percent of the season.
That doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate what happened, in the context of fun small samples.
We already know that losing Carlos Santana wasn’t a popular move; even people who spent the better part of a decade heckling the music legend for not swinging enough or being “clutch” enough were sad to see him go after belting more than 50 home runs over the last two seasons. The Tribe’s solution was Yonder Alonso, and so far it’s worked out pretty well.
This article will have some baseball analysis, I swear, but before we get to that I have something I need to talk about in regards to Mr. Alonso. Listen, it’s gonna be weird, you can skip ahead if you like but it’s bugged me every at-bat and it will all season until I mention it.
...my boy is T H I C C as hell, right? I mean, to put in this in baseball terms so it’s not completely weird, the dude’s bottom half is built like a tree trunk; in the same mold as Giancarlo Stanton. It’s like someone took Bradley Zimmer’s enormous legs, folded them over and stuffed them into a pair of pants. If power comes from the legs, Yonder could electrify a small nation for a week.
Anyway, when Alonso isn’t busy mentoring young Achilles, he hits baseballs really, really hard. Without his huge grand slam in the second game of the series, the Indians probably get swept in Seattle and the bad takes reach a new high. Instead, we were treated to a pretty great game, and a truly great swing on a 1-0 pitch up in the zone by Alonso that gave the Tribe their first lead of the season.
“Alonso used to be on the Mariners, so maybe he was just comfortable in Safeco Field” is a thought you might have. If the tone of the Lookout Landing recap is any indication, they were not too fond of Cleveland’s thiccest son:
Nine months after being traded to the Mariners, but three months after leaving them, Yonder Alonso finally decided to show up to Safeco.
So maybe that’s not the case. Maybe Alonso is just real good now. Or maybe he’s always had his strengths, but power is slowly becoming one of them.
We also saw a glimpse of his ability to take the ball the other way, which is arguably one of his best attributes. At the very least, how he has spread the ball over his career is one thing to look at and be a little more okay with the Indians replacing Santana with him. Small, but it’s not nothing.
In his first series with Cleveland, he drove two balls deep to left field, one went for a double off the wall and one was a fly out at the warning track. In most stadiums (including his new home, Progressive Field), Alonso leaves this series with three homers instead of one. Safeco’s deep left-center wall and Dee Gordon’s speed held him to one hit on the series, however.
As you might also expect, Alonso blistered almost every pitch he made contact with.
That’s Yandy Diaz-esque with the benefit of the ball actually leaving the infield. It’s hard to beat that. The velocity we’re seeing early on follows a trend from last year, that Alonso is intentionally hitting up and hitting harder. So far it’s worked.
I’m not saying it’s time to declare the Indians front office geniuses quite yet (as great they are), and it’s far too soon to have a final verdict of Yonder Alonso. But as far as one series is concerned, as far as we can react to what little baseball we’ve seen so far, Yonder Alonso is one of this team’s bright spots and I’m out here for it.