One of the complaints about the Astros’ usage of Tyler White, especially in 2016 and 2017 was that the team did not really seem to be willing to give him a big shot. In 2016, he started off as an AL Player of the Week, then horribly slumped and was used sporadically in the second half. In 2017 he hit very well .279 BA/ .328 OBP/ .853 OPS, but was only given 61 ABs.
Tyler White started 2018 in the minors, got a call up and then worked his way into a steady gig as the DH / 1B. Coming into 2019, the team basically handed him the DH job and the backup to 1B job. He came into spring training looking out of shape, never got into shape and never hit adequately up to the point he was DFA’d on Friday. Take a quick look at his 2018 and 2019 numbers in basically the same amount of ABs.
There was no way to look at 2019 as anything but a disaster and an opportunity lost for White as his power disappeared and his fruitless hacking raised his strikeout percentage from a decent 20.7% to an indecent 29.3%. Instead of earning a longer term spot in the majors, White earned his DFA though for some he should have not lasted this long.
Now speaking of opportunity, another player grasped opportunity by the throat in 2019 and so far has not let go. His name is Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez started the season totally on fire carrying a .400 average well into May at AAA Round Rock and putting up a minor league leading 23 HRs and 71 RBIs in only 56 games. By the time he was finally called up in the midst of the Astros injury problems, he had “cooled” off to a .343 BA/ .443 OBP/ 1.184 OPS slash.
Brought up and handed the DH spot that White never secured, Alvarez has been a revelation. Consider the following in his 27 game major league career:
- He’s already scored 17 runs, hit 9 doubles, 10 HRs and knocked in 32 RBIs.
- He’s put up a brilliant slash of .327 BA/ .400 OBP/ 1.092 OPS
- He’s had an extra base hit in 17 of his 27 games
- He’s had an RBI in 18 of his 27 games
- The team is 14-4 when he gets an RBI
The only kink in the armor has been a pretty high 27.3% strikeout rate, but who cares. Alvarez’s at bats have become must see TV.
So, 2019 has been a tale of two opportunities. White’s opportunity lost. Alvarez’s opportunity grasped and owned. This is the true story of sports.