Yonder Alonso was a success story as the league-wide flyball revolution continued in 2017, fully tapping into the power that made him a top prospect in the Reds' system nearly 10 years ago. The new approach paid off, as Alonso's effort to hit more flyballs (career-high 43.2 FB%) was accompanied by a HR/FB rate spike from 5.1 percent in 2016 to 19.4 percent last season. In years past, he struggled to punish fastballs, but he slugged .683 against four-seamers and .704 against two-seamers in 2017, with 18 of his career-high 28 homers coming against those two offerings. The Mariners acquired Alonso from the A's in a midseason trade, but he faded in the second half, finishing with a .774 OPS when his flyball rate bottomed out at 36.1 percent and he pulled the ball excessively. He should hold the large side of a platoon at first base after signing with the Indians, but Alonso is a much more interesting corner-infield filler than he was a year ago.
Alonso is hitting .333/.438/.667 with two home runs and a 4:5 K:BB in 27 spring at-bats. His Indians tenure is off to a terrific start, but there's nothing actionable to take away from this small sample size. He has been hitting fifth, behind Edwin Encarnacion and in front of Lonnie Chisenhall, but could move down in the lineup if Michael Brantley (ankle) is ready for Opening Day.
Alonso signed a contract with the Indians on Wednesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The deal is reportedly worth $16 million over two years and includes an $8 million vesting option for a third year, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It appears the Indians have found their replacement for Carlos Santana at first base, as Alonso will join Cleveland following his breakout 2017 season. The 30-year-old hit .266/.365/.501 and knocked a career-high 28 homers (he hadn't hit more than nine in any prior season) across 142 games with both Oakland and Seattle last season, earning himself All-Star honors for the first time in his career. He did struggle against same-handed pitchers (.181/.263/.417), so it's possible he settles into the strong side of a platoon with Edwin Encarnacion at first, with Encarnacion otherwise serving as the team's DH against righties.
Alonso went 2-for-4 with a home run in Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Angels. Alonso has played in four of Seattle's last five games, going 6-for-12 with three home runs and four RBI over that stretch. Heading into the year, Alonso had never hit more than nine home runs in a season, so 2017's total of 28 certainly comes as a surprise.
Alonso is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Angels, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com. Alonso will be held out Friday for the second day in a row despite hitting a home run in his last two starts. Danny Valencia will get the start at first base in Alonso's place.
Alonso is out of the lineup Wednesday against the A's. Alonso has hit a home run in each of Seattle's last two games, bringing his total up to 27 for the season. However, despite his hot bat, Alonso will head to the bench Wednesday. Daniel Vogelbach will start at first base and hit sixth in his stead.