I’ve had the pleasure of writing Yonder Alonso’s player comment in each of the last three Baseball Prospectus annuals, and it has become my custom to compare him to other players. Here are the career statistics (through August 27) of those players and Alonso:
I’m leaving out many columns here, but this gives some idea of the types of information I find useful in describing a hitter. Batting average has its limitations, of course, but still tells us how often someone gets base hits. ISO, which is batting average subtracted from slugging percentage, gives a good indication of a player’s power. BB% shows a player’s ability to reach base via walk. The advantage to using ISO and BB% over SLG and OBP is that they remove batting average from the equation, leaving only the component that we wish to examine. OPS+ and wRC+ are added at the end to provide an overall feel for the level of hitter.
It’s clear at this point that Alonso lacks Overbay’s power. My original hope that Alonso would be that type of hitter was both a low bar and one that he has failed to reach. Bochte likewise seems overly ambitious due to the batting average and walk rate. This leaves Walling, who was a decent enough player in his day and whose numbers are alarmingly close to those of Alonso.
What Walling wasn’t, however, was a starting big-league first baseman. And that got me wondering: Has anyone with Alonso’s offensive skill set had a long career as a starting big-league first baseman?
Spoiler alert: no.