When you have been watching baseball since the mid-1960’s every new player reminds you of someone from the past. Justin Verlander might remind you of a bigger version of Nolan Ryan, reinventing himself (and improving) at an age when many players hang it up. Michael Brantley might make one think of a David Justice, someone who is just a professional hitter and solid player.
But then there is Yordan Alvarez. He is more like a real live Paul Bunyan. A legend, who is real. His last two home runs are just the latest examples of how he is solidifying his legendary status. In Kansas City he came off the bench with the game in doubt and two men on and erased all doubt with a ball that looked more like a two-iron off a tee than a hit baseball. Tuesday night with the Astros nursing a 2-0 lead late (after Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman had hit home run shots of their own) Yordan worked the count and then totally lost one 454 ft to center field. It would have been fun to see him hit this one outdoors because it looked more like a 500 ft shot that ran out of indoor room.
How good is he?
- If you projected his 79 game totals into a full 162 game season, he would have 113 runs scored, 47 doubles, 53 HRs, 156 RBIs and 100 walks. His slash line, which has been pretty darn steady is .318 BA/.419 OBP/ 1.090 OPS. As a reminder, 9 year veteran Mike Trout who is likely to be the AL MVP (sorry Alex Bregman, who I adore) will wrap up with 110 Runs, 27 doubles, 45 HRs and 104 RBIs and 100 walks with a .291 BA/ .438 OBP/ 1.083 OPS.
- His 55 runs, 23 doubles, 26 HRs, 76 RBIs (and .318/.419/1.090 slash) in only 78 games overshadows the Astros two Rookie of the Year winners. Jeff Bagwell had 79 runs, 26 doubles 15 HRs and 82 RBIs (with a .294/.387/.824 slash)……in 156 games! In a little closer comparison length-wise, Carlos Correa posted 52 runs, 22 doubles, 22 HRs and 68 RBIs (with a .279/.345/.857 slash) in 99 games.
- He just turned 22 in June. At this age George Springer had just finished his first professional season at A- ball.
- This is no fluke. He has been tearing it up at every level since the Astros acquired him from the Dodgers in exchange for Josh Fields (a trade that may some day rival the Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell trade). In 2016, as a 19 year old in rookie ball he slashed .341 BA/ .474 OBP/ .974 OPS. In 2017 between A and A+ ball he slashed .304/.379/ .859. In 2018 between AA and AAA ball he slashed .293/.369/.904 and this season before being called up he was destroying AAA ball in his repeat at that level with a 343 BA/ .443 OBP/ 1.184 OPS line and that was after cooling off from an insane start to the season. At Round Rock this season in 56 games he scored 50 Runs, and hit 23 HRs and 71 RBIs. That means that if he hits one more HR and knocks in 3 more runs, he will total 50 HRs and 150 RBIs between AAA and the majors this season in about 144 games!!
- He is only slightly affected by facing left-handed pitchers. His slash against them is .313 BA/ .395 OBP/ 1.041 OPS and has 8 HRs and 23 RBIs against them in about 1/2 the at bats as against the righties.
- He is super consistent. He has had at bats in 4 months (June thru September). His low mark for any of the months was .309 BA (August)/ .406 OBP (June) / 1.045 OPS (July).
- His walk rate is 14.5% vs. an MLB average of 8.5% and his extra base hit % is 14.5 vs. an MLB average of 8.7%. He is patient, but when he swings big things happen.
- On a team that struggles a bit with runners in scoring position, he has 8 HRs, 49 RBIs and is slashing .348 BA/ .429 OBP/ 1.114 OPS. Two outs and runners in scoring position? .324/.405/1.026 slash line.
- Even with playing only about half a season, he will be the AL Rookie of the Year. Any other choice would be silly.
Areas for improvement? Biggest would be strikeouts as he has struck out the equivalent of 170 Ks over a 162 games season. His .363 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a bit high which could indicate a bit of luck. However, when you consistently hit the living heck out of the ball, you may make your own luck.
Yordan Alvarez’s at bats have become must see TV in Houston. The fans hope that continues for the next decade or so.