Will Yordan Alvarez become the greatest Astros’ left-handed hitter?

In some ways, this is one of those throw down topics that may not be proved for a long time, but it is still one of interest. Will Yordan Alvarez, who in his 89 game Astros “career” has posted an incredible .312 BA/ .410 OBP/ 1.064 OPS with 28 HRs and 82 RBIs become the greatest Astro left-handed hitter of all time?

An argument could be made that the greatest left-handed hitter in Astro history was somebody who only batted left-handed in about 3/4 of his ABs, switch hitter Lance Berkman. His career numbers from the left side only included a slash of .304 BA/ .420 OBP/ .995 OPS with 316 HRs and 1001 RBIs. But since Lance did hit a pedestrian .260 BA/ .360 OBP/ .775 OPS from the right side, he will not be part of this discussion on purely left-handed hitters. Wandering down the Astro team statistics for best single seasons and best career numbers, the lists are dominated by the right-handed hitters – Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Moises Alou, Jimmy Wynn, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Cesar Cedeno, Bob Watson, Glenn Davis and on and on.

Left-handed hitters are few and far between on either the career or single-season Top 10 lists. Greg Gross shows up with his .293 career BA, but I hit as many HRs (0) as Gross did in his 1612 ABs with the Astros. (We can save for a later date discussing how a man can hit the ball solidly enough to hit almost .300 but not even have one fluke HR in his 5 seasons with the Astros). Terry Puhl shows up on a number of career lists such as WAR (28.5), hits (1357), runs (871) and doubles (226). And while he was a solid hitter, his longevity (14 seasons) is what put him on these lists. Dave Magadan had one hot season with the Astros (.313 BA/ .428 OBP/ .827 OPS) but he had only a little more power than Greg Gross (2 HRs / 51 RBIs) in 1995.

A couple what-ifs show up on the list. Rusty Staub with his .333 BA in 1967 and Joe Morgan with his 30.7 WAR with the Astros, but both were sent away too soon to star elsewhere. In recent times, Michael Brantley brought a very good bat to the team during his two seasons with the team. His 2019 season was especially strong with a .311 BA/ .372 OBP/ .875 OPS and 22 HRs and 90 RBIs. However, Alvarez already has more HRs than Brantley in 105 fewer games and should sail past him in career Astro RBIs somewhere in the first couple months of next season.

Basically, the purely left-handed Astro hitter that Alvarez would be chasing in this hypothetical race is long time icon Jose Cruz. When looking at Cruz’s stats with the Astros it has to be remembered that it was a different time offensively in baseball and that Cruz played in an unforgiving environment in the Astrodome. But Cruz in his 13 seasons with the Astros has placed himself on many of the Astros’ career top 10 lists. He is 7th in BA (.292), 3rd in WAR (51.4), 3rd in hits (1937 hits), 5th in doubles (335), 9th in HRs (138), 5th in runs scored (871 runs), 4th in RBIs (942), and 4th in total bases (2846).

Of course, Cruz never had the out of his mind kind of season that Yordan seems capable of producing. His best season arguably was in 1983 when he slashed .318 BA/ .385 OBP/ .848 OPS with 14 HRs and 92 RBIs and came in 6th in the MVP race. He never hit 20 HRs in a season (he only topped 15 once) and never drove in over 100 runs, but he was a very consistent and good producer. In a right-handed dominated offensive history, he stands out as the best up to this time from the left side.

So, what would it take for Alvarez to overtake Cruz? Certainly, he does not have to catch him on the career lists, but if he puts up 5 seasons like he seemingly is capable of producing, he will take this crown from Cheo. There is one thing for certain here and that is there is one statistic for which Yordan will never overtake Jose. Jose Cruz is the all-time leader in Astros triples with 80. In today’s game with today’s stadiums that is a number that neither Yordan or any of his teammates will ever touch.

58 comments on “Will Yordan Alvarez become the greatest Astros’ left-handed hitter?

  1. If they can keep him healthy, I think Yordan could catch Cruz in a bunch of categories. It all depends on how many years he stays with the Astros. 13 years is a long time to play for 1 team nowadays, and a lot has changed since Cruz was around.
    I think what could be more important than stats is the question of whether Yordan’s bat can help us win a World Series. That is the prize!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, so Alvarez was the unanimous ROY in 2019. He got Covid, was injured and didn’t play but for a minute in 2020.
    He is the guy that the prognosticators are forgetting about. He is the guy who gives the other team things to worry about before he even steps into the on-deck-circle. He is a guy who gets players in front of him and behind him better pitches to hit.
    More than 65% of MLB pitchers are RHP. huge deal for Alvarez. He makes other managers make moves because he is that dangerous.
    Even now, I think he is one of the Astros core players. He has 2021 and 2022 at pre-arb rates and then 3 arbitration years. So we have him for 5 more years and I think he is a candidate for an extension.
    Yordan has a chance to be up there with the Astros’ great players. It’s all about his legs.
    He’s from Cuba, and he’s just getting started. I believe I will be saying that a lot in the years to come.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you left out is that in 2019 he put up a 1.038 OPS against LHP. More than any other hitter in the lineup, the opposing manager will want to plan his moves around Alvarez, but if he keeps up that hitting there won’t be many strategic moves to be made.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What you left out was that his OPS was 3oo points higher against RH starters than against LH starters. When RH pitcher starts against our lineup he made them pay. And when LH starters make a start against us, we have big RH batters waiting for them. And with the new rules, if they bring in a LH pitcher in relief against him, that pitcher has to possibly face two RH batters sitting behind him.
        Alvarez is a dilemma for other teams.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is a great point Devin – he was so consistent

        2019
        June – .317 BA/ .406 OBP/ 1.139 OPS
        July – .333 BA /. 419 OBP/ 1.045 OPS
        Aug – .309 BA / .425 OBP/ 1.095 OPS
        Sep/Oct – .296 BA/ .394 OBP/ 0.999 OPS

        Like

  3. It is not huge samples but in 2019….
    – They reached a 3-0 count on him 18 times. 17 times he walked and the one time he didn’t he hit a 2 run homer – so his slash was 1.000 BA/ 1.000 OBP/ 5.000 OPS
    – More amazing – they reached a 3-1 count on him 24 times and he walked 17 times/ was hit once and for the other 6 at bats had 5 hits including 3 doubles, 2 HRs and 4 RBIs – his slash was a .833 BA/ .958 OBP/ 3.292 OPS

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is up my alley, but I’m all talked out about it.
    Not only are there more important things going on worldwide, but yes Alvarez is a generational talent. I had him tracking to overcome a record that may never be broken. Babe Ruth’s lifetime ISO. Nobody will be that durable though..

    And too, it is vital that you bookend Yordan with righties who get on base. He absolutely needs RBI opportuities as job #1 for Astros management. While he can hit lefties well, like Tucker, he can maul righties.

    I knew Alvarez was going to be special, and Sparks confirmed it when he was first brought in — he wanted to go see him hit batting practice and look for one thing. Soon as he saw is first swing, he said, “yep, he’s got it.” Tucks his left elbow for supreme leverage. He’s just so fundamentally sound and repeatable. I said it at the time, the only way to beat him is a Jake Diekman type who can sharply break staying inside, or horizontally sweep across the plate. That’s his underbelly. Yordan is blessed with patience poise and a good eye for the long haul too, though. Already married with a family at a young age, matured beyond his years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, Dan, I am speaking of Washington, DC at this very moment. Carry on with your daily lives and bless everyone at Chippalata. I didn’t mean the way that read.

      Like

  5. If the Reds signing Chase De Jong doesn’t tell you the budget moves teams are making, not sure what does. Springer and Ozuna must be hating life on the eve of their big pay days.

    Like

  6. Another what-if guy you forgot to mention is Luis Gonzalez, who accumulated most of his 51.7 career WAR with the D-Backs.

    Then again, maybe you forgot to mention him on purpose since we traded him for the forgettable Rick Wilkins.

    Like

    • Good one to point out Astro Nut – I could pretend like I did not include Luis because he did not rate, but straight out forgot him. In truth he was very very mediocre in his time here – though he did not get steady playing time. His slash was .266 BA/ .335 OBP/ .771 OPS with an average of 9 HRs and 52 RBIs per season here in Houston and then suddenly (steroids?) when he went to Arizona at the age of 31 he hit . 298/ .391/ .991 with an average of 28 HRs and 96 RBIs in 8 seasons there….
      He was a decent lefty hitter when he was here and excellent after he left.

      Side story one day I saw him at my church in Sugar Land – after Mass he walked out to his very sweet sports car in the parking lot.

      Like

      • In all fairness, after leaving the Astros the second time, he had a good year with Detroit power wise the season before he joined Arizona. He also didn’t look like he had bulked up any.

        Like

  7. Jeremy Pena’s team beat Jose Siri’s team in todays Dominican winter league playoffs. Siri’s team leads 3 games to 1 in the best of 7.
    Siri was 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and Pena was 2 for 4.
    Both of them are the leadoff hitters for their team.

    Like

    • This is good news to me, in that one option I thought Astros should deploy is to stand pat on high dollar OF acquisition, and simply acquire someone who gives the prospects ample competition. This is the depth chart as I see it, without (now) a Pillar, or Rosario pickup:

      “On a budget” OF
      1. Tucker, Straw, McCormick, Diaz (100 ab’s ea., then re-evaluate)
      2. Siri, Dawson, Leon (Late-’21)
      3. Meyers, De la Cruz, Barber (Late-’21)
      4. Brewer, Daniels, C Taylor, Julks/Stubbs/Nova (2022-2023)

      Like

  8. The Mets just acquired Lindor and Carrasco in exchange for their two shortstops and two minor league prospects. it’s a big deal.
    The Mets are moving up.

    Like

    • I’ve had my eye on Josh Wolf, and even went to see him pitch here locally before the draft. Biggio had ties at St Thomas too, would’ve made recommendations. We didn’t get a shot at him, though, iirc having taken Lee first.

      Wish we could have swung a similar deal, as suggested before for Correa (if he’s going to move on), but we may have other things in mind.

      Mets have been wise to want to deal Rosario for several yrs now. Now, if they can still afford Springer, what self-named island do you think Robbie Cano will be sitting on watching the season? All this to edge by the Marlins? When will NYM ever learn though you have to develop your prospects for sustainable winning… buying up an albatross contract for a one-year wonder Closer, this is the end product, like Bobby Bonilla or Madoff investments. More dollars than sense.

      Like

      • It makes more sense if Lindor is the guy they want to offer a huge long-term deal to. Cohen has the money to do that.
        What the Mets have done is what the Dodgers did to get Betts in the fold and then make him rich forever. Carrasco could be a better buy than Price turned out to be and I don’t think the Mets gave up as much as the Dodgers did for Betts.
        I guess it’s all open for opinion.
        One thing is for certain, though: Lindor knows he just went from one of the poorest franchises to one of the richest. And this rich guy is ready to spend.

        Like

  9. Alvarez is remarkably quiet at the plate for a young guy. But equally remarkable is the bat speed he generates. Not many cheap hits from the kid. I just don’t like missing his at bats. As 1OP noted initially, it’s all about his knees. If heathy, we’ll see remarkable things.

    Mets: Lindor and Springer too?

    Like

    • Interesting with the Lindor trade. I can’t see the Mets doing the deal and not extending him. Now the question is do they still try to get Springer or let him go to Toronto. It will be interesting to see what happens. I still think that they will try to sign Springer.

      Like

  10. I am listening to Pete Putila on Astroline.
    They asked him which pitcher took the biggest leap forward, after he’d already re-iterated Whitley striking out 7 straight guys (“never been done before.”)

    He said, Hunter Brown.
    Parks at “96-98 with a Tyler Glasnow breaking ball.”
    In the same breath as Whitley, Solis and Ivey.

    Asked “what is the OF going to look like?”

    Pete: “We like our internal options
    Really like McCormick,.. found his power, and Straw.”

    What about Yordan in the field?
    “Obviously just keeping him healthy, but yes we hope to get him on the field a little bit.”

    What about Siri?
    Pete: Somebody our pro scouting guys said stellar defense, and some power there. We’re excited about the tools, another player to add depth, excited.”

    What about Brantley and George?
    We wish them well basically.

    Well, there it is.

    Like

    • One of the internal options is the recent addition. Another internal option will soon be added.
      Funny how he mentions the only two outfielders currently on the 40-man, with Yordan being the DH. Who the heck else is he going to mention?
      Yordan will play outfield in batting practice and on his Ipad. Please, let’s put the best DH in baseball in LF after surgery on both knees. We all fell off the cabbage truck.
      When we head to ST, we will finally be able to easily see how much smoke Putila was blowing and who Click ended up being on fire for.
      Somebody in scouting in the Dominican told the Astros to sign Siri right now. He actually found out he had been signed by the Astros while he was batting in a game.

      Like

      • Yes, he seemed to say again a lot of what was written recently after the Instructionals.

        Not to misrepresent the comments on Alvarez, he said obviously we just want him healthy, but he hinted that he’s moving around well thus far so we’ll see. Personally, I would not play him in field if there was EVER a question of him getting injured, but I know he’d go stir crazy without a glove.

        Long-term I’d want him to start 30-50 games a year, mainly because others need a spell too.

        Like

      • Why would we start believing now what our GM or assistant has to say? They will always say nice things about our players because you don’t say things that are not nice about them. These guys will improve the club in some way from outside the organization. They will make the club better.

        Like

      • Lionfish sound scarier than attck hornets, and Colorado squirrels carrying bubonic plague. If it’s not one thing, it’s another dave. Is there also concern of sharks by swimming in the surf there??

        Like

      • GoStros1, about 800 yards a day in the water. Sharks have not gotten me yet. I’ve promised my jeep to a knucklehead Norwegian buddy if I should get eaten. He does not really care about me any more than 45 does though. In fact, I try to make sure he’s not putting chum out there before I go in.

        Like

  11. Jeremy Pena’s Estrellas team beat Jose Siri’s Gigantes tonight 5-3.
    Pena was 2-5 with a 2-run HR. Siri was 1-4 with a BB.
    The teams play again tomorrow night. This series is the semifinals.

    Like

  12. Stanek did not pitch well in a small sample last season, but he was coming off Covid. Having been there, symptoms from that virus can linger such as fatigue – maybe unlike Urquidy he came back too soon.
    I think it was a smart pickup because he certainly was much better in the years before 2020 and he will be pitching in a make good season.

    Like

  13. JV Cole and Maldonado in the news.
    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/astros/article/Justin-Verlander-linked-to-doctored-baseballs-15854891.php?fbclid=IwAR3l97tStMFIl9rkoVxiTMy5CQ_SjxTbuQOQ69wMpoR93h9fcUn2467jjnU

    Turns out they were texting the Angels trainer for Stick ’em. Isn’t that like,…cheating? Didn’t Bauer say he experimented with it during 2019 season, just to see if it would help & it did?

    Such sanctimony over sign stealing, too, when stick ’em is simply a way to offset the effects. If pitcher cheats to get a nastier curve, isn’t it only fair to know it’s coming and lay off? Such a tangled web they weave.

    Don’t they know that 20% of us could care less overall about “ethics” if they’ve all got something literally up their sleeve? I think it’s even more amusing this psuedo-solidarity they have. it is said the players are most mad at HOU because they were so “Obvious” that it drew suspicion of other teams. A sort of “rocking the boat” criticism that had to be fashioned a different way by the media, or else it would implicate their Darlings!

    But now you see the hypocrisy of any pitchers who ever cried foul over sign stealing when they had their own schemes they tried using code and hushing up? Just be honest and transparent to fans, we don’t like to be lied to either.

    Like

  14. I’m awaiting anyone who has seen Baseball America’s Astros Top 10 to see how they did. This of course is the Master Version HaHa!

    HOU Update:
    1.) F Whitley 2.) H Brown 3.) K Lee
    4.) J Pena 5.) L Garcia 6.) B Abreu
    7.) F Nova 8.) J Solis 9.) A Santos
    10.) C Barber 11.) J Brewer 12.) T Ivey
    13.) J Torres 14.) Z Daniels 15.) T Brown
    16.) D Lorenzo 17.) G Kessinger 18.) P Solomon
    19.) B Conine 20.) C McCormick

    If Abreu could be a SP as Strom says, he should be closer to #3. If he fails as even in a bullpen role, he shouldn’t be in top 10 (high ceiling, low floor at this point).

    I’ve moved Hunter Brown, Korey Lee, Colin Barber, Zach Daniels and McCormick up, since last Fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kind of ironic, that #20 is the one guy who is currently in line for a major league roster spot. Others may (and should) make the big team some time during 2021.

      Like

      • I try to stick to projecting the *most future WAR* ranks, keeping it to a minimum of those who actually have a shot and are truly “prospects.” It’s important to defend why one player ranks ahead/behind another (like JJ Cooper used to do). In my view, that changes quicker than most purists who seem to set tool grades without much thought for FG’s future value. The Astros are able to take a player and mold them by using the top instructors (even if they’re consultants, or on other teams). A few our instructors follow; Tom House, Demetre Kokoris, Perry Husband..

        And so, it’s important to get updates since the Astros don’t much allow their players to post their workouts. We have to get the skinny from A-ball interviews, or their instructors at each level. Likewise, it’s harder to get a read on whether a pitcher is “working on something”; or trying his best, unless you can see the recorded games or be there.

        Like

  15. Here’s the free agency report for Jan 8th:
    Out of 324 major league free agents reported by Fangraphs:
    37 have signed major league contracts.
    34 have signed minor league deals.
    That leaves 253 players who don’t have deals yet.
    And Spotrac says there are currently 67 spots open on MLB rosters.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Harkins’ “fraternity” spanned the entire major leagues. Former Angels closer Troy Percival, Harkins said, developed the substance that Harkins distributed, and cited a swath of Angels pitchers spanning several eras that used it, from Percival to Brendan Donnelly to active big leaguers Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, Yusmeiro Petit, Matt Andriese and Dylan Bundy.

    Visiting players, the filing stated, who obtained the substance upon visiting the affable Harkins’ quarters included Cole and Verlander, and various All-Star or veteran stalwarts like Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Edwin Jackson, Cory Kluber and Adam Wainwright.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/other/gerrit-cole-justin-verlander-named-by-fired-angels-employee-in-sticky-substance-lawsuit/ar-BB1cABdp

    Like

    • And the hits just keep on coming. As the Don Henly lyrics go,
      “Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
      Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em all around”

      Why should they beat up on anyone else when it’s so easy to beat up on the Astros.

      Like

      • Yeah, but the main guy being beat up by this trainer is now the Star of the New York Yankees.
        How do you think this will work out?

        Like

      • If I were to take a guess, Manfred will install a pine tar/resin dispenser behind the mound at Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, the Astros will be penalized two draft picks for using illicit substances on the mound.

        Like

  17. * Did you know that George Springer was drafted in the 48th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Twins and then went to UConn?
    * The Astros got his age 24 through 30 years for $49.9 million, not including his signing bonus. Springer wants more than $150 million for the next six years.
    * The Astros Luxury tax payroll sits at $175 million for 2021. Springer is priced way out of the Astros realm and they are ready to move on. I never saw any indication that George planned on staying here. Someone is going to pay him 3 times what he made in Houston for his next six years.
    * Seems like everyone despises the players of the 2017 World Series Champions. At least until they become free agents.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s