Farewell to a man made in Oakland.
Besides, you know, being good enough to play in the MLB, Yonder Alonso was a nobody before he broke out this year with the A’s. He will now forever be known as ‘All-Star Yonder Alonso.”
Just three weeks into the season, his chilling Player’s Tribune article went viral.
If you have time today, read what Yonder Alonso wrote. Wow. Letter to My Younger Self | The Players' Tribune https://t.co/pnQ1Bj4yxY— Ryan Spilborghs (@spillygoat19) May 18, 2017
Give it a read.
Soon after that, it became clear he was on track for something special.
He had his first career multi-homer game on May 6th, surpassed his career season-high home run total (9) on May 7th, then hit two more on May 9th.
Alonso was vocal about retooling his swing in the offseason, and wow, did it pay off.
He went on MLB Central in early June, and was dubbed “The poster child for the new swing metrics,” and publicly defended the Coliseum. Not to mention, his son stole the show (skip to 14:00 to have your heart melt).
Come the All-Star game, all eyes were on the Alonso family.
His brother-in-law, Manny Machado, made a guest appearance to take Yonder to a new level of stardom, but his stolen base and two hits during the game itself took him out of this stratosphere.
Manny Machado here to support Yonder Alonso. pic.twitter.com/y5OkJF8O3V— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) July 11, 2017
In half a season of other-worldy play, Alonso proved that a star can thrive in Oakland — and more importantly, want to be there.
As expected, his play has regressed a bit since the break. However, his one home run was a big one:
Alonso’s bat might not be the biggest loss in this trade: that title goes to his leadership skills. He was a proven clubhouse captain for a team that desperately needed one.
There are many tidbits about motivational conversations he’s had with the younger players (namely, Ryon Healy) but personally, I think the impact he has on other veterans better demonstrates his value.
Susan Slusser’s story on his relationship with Danny Valencia will always stick out. Valencia convinced Alonso to return to Cuba with him in the offseason, and Valencia cried as he watched Alonso reunite with family he hadn’t seen since he was a child.
In March Valencia said, “I feel he’s going to have a huge season. He’s worked so hard.”
Despite his emotional circumstances, Alonso brought some lighthearted goodwill to the clubhouse. He had shirts made following the walk-off spree last month:
I mean, just look at Matt Chapman. Yonder had no problem showing his Oakland pride, and instilled it in his teammates.
In June, he told Ken Rosenthal: “A lot of players here say, ‘I want to play well here, do well and get out.’ I actually want to play well, do well and stay here.”
The elephant in the room is that Alonso’s breakout could be a fluke. Thus, the team did not extend him midway through this year.
With Matt Olson taking over Alonso’s place at first in conjunction with Healy, the odds of resigning him are slim. It doesn’t appear that there are any hard feelings: “They believed in me and helped me mature and recharge my career,” Alonso said.
Finally, classy as ever, he tweeted his thanks to the organization:
Thanks for everything, Yonder.