Anthony Rizzo was one of the most beloved prospects the Padres have seen come through the system in a long time. Much of this may have been from the fact that he was part of the deal that sent San Diego’s All-Star first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, to Boston. A lot of it was due to his talent at the
plate though. Now, with a little more than 25% of the season complete, has San Diego’s new first baseman, Yonder Alonso, helped ease the pain of the Rizzo trade?
The Padres received Andrew Cashner in return for trading Anthony Rizzo to Chicago. Not many people felt this was a fair trade, but Cashner has been impressive at times. Last night’s blown game notwithstanding, Cashner has some true talent and could help him develop into a very solid pitcher. But his acquisition is almost just a side note. Maybe the Padres could have received more for Rizzo, maybe they couldn’t. The fact is, they have Yonder Alonso playing first base for them now, and he is doing a pretty good job of it.
Coming into today, Alonso, in 159 plate appearances is batting .301/.380/.420. Ignore the batting average – as impressive as it is – and the slugging percentage. Look solely at the on-base percentage. His .380 OBO ranks him 27th in all of baseball, and fifth among first baseman in the league. Playing in Petco Park for half his games, that’s exactly what you want to see from Alonso. He may have just one home run, but the power to get the ball into the gaps is more important. Alonso probably could hit 20-25 home runs in San Diego, but he would strike out much more than he is now. As it stands, Alonso is striking out just 16.6% of the time. He is walking 11% of the time.
Anthony Rizzo is doing well for himself too. At Triple-A Iowa, he is hitting .344/.413/.681 with 14 home runs already. He is putting up similar numbers to his 2011 Triple-A Tucson campaign, and he will likely continue his success once he gets called up to the Cubs. But the Padres have a first baseman who is already contributing at the Major League level for them. Alonso has already made himself worth 0.5 WAR. If we extrapolate that across the rest of the season, he could have a 2.0 WAR year or better in his first year with San Diego.
Alonso is showing everyone exactly why he was excited to hit at Petco Park. He talked about using all fields, and that’s exactly what he’s done. He could quickly develop into the Padres best offensive player, then this time next year, perhaps we’ll be talking about a contract extension.
No matter how successful Rizzo is when he gets called up – and I wish him all the success in the world – the Padres made the right move playing Alonso over Rizzo and trading Rizzo away. Debates over the return on the Rizzo trade, this can rage on forever, but there is little doubt in my mind that Alonso is currently the better Major League first baseman.