As a lifelong Padres fan, this year is one that really tests how much of a fan you are. And it isn’t as much about the losses that are piling up as it is about the fact that there’s not much on this team to cheer for.
For all the great minor league talent San Diego has acquired recently, I’ve found that at the major league level the only hitter I actually look forward to watching is 1B Yonder Alonso. I had the opportunity to check out Alonso when the Padres were in D.C. to play the Nationals this week, and here are my thoughts on him as they relate to keeper leagues.
The first thing I noticed watching Alonso play Monday night and Tuesday afternoon is that he has a smooth swing. It doesn’t generate a ton of loft but it looks easy and I finally understand why many scouts feel Alonso is a good fit for San Diego. Even though I saw him playing in Nationals Park, there was enough room in that OF that line drives escaped to the gaps, and showed why Alonso already has 12 doubles this season. Obviously you don’t want to make any finite judgements on a handful of ABs, but there’s something about seeing a person live that just doesn’t translate to highlight or live TV, and with Alonso, I could just see that there’s something there.
Talking to a league mate after yesterday’s game, I feel that his comparison of Alonso to John Olerud is spot on – Alonso may never hit more than 20-25 HR in a season, but his line drive approach should help him consistently hit around .300 with 35+ doubles every year. Of course, those stats won’t make Alonso the prototypical 1B for fantasy purposes but as a UT or CI guy, he will be the type of player that can allow you to roster a poor BA/high K guy like Adam Dunn or Carlos Pena.
If Alonso can reach that ceiling, it should make him an attractive keeper option in leagues with 7+ keepers or in leagues that count OBP. He has posted around a 10% BB% in his time in the majors and this year has a K% less than 17%, showing solid strike zone judgement. These skills will make Alonso a solid contributor year in and year out, even if he may never rank as a Top 10 fantasy 1B.
This may not be a skill set that makes you sit up and drool but it is one that should be effective and keep the blood pressure down as Alonso should avoid severe swings in his stats.
If you find yourself looking for a safe option at 1B, don’t overlook the only interesting offensive player in San Diego. I mean someone has to knock in runs down there right?