Yordan, Pete, Kyle and the rest

I probably need to throw apologies to the late Old Folkie Pete Seeger for the following, because watching Yordan Alvarez on Friday night face another left-handed pitcher in the late innings in a crucial spot and deliver another intracontinental missile to give the Astros the lead brought to mind a song. “Where have all the Flowers Gone” was a beautiful protest song written by Seeger and performed by many artists including the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary. Though it was not intended to be applied to baseball, I just can’t get certain lyrics out of my mind, when it comes to Yordan. “When will they ever learn. When will they ever learn.”

We saw it in the 2022 ALDS and in the most critical spot in the clinching game of the World Series and have seen it a couple times this year. But managers think bringing in a left-handed reliever to face Big Papi 2.0 is going to faze him. He doesn’t always win the battles, but it seems like the bigger the stage and the moment, the better he performs. Of course, this writer does not want the opposing managers to stop thinking they are the smartest guy in the room. Just keep challenging him and hanging their heads.

Some thoughts as the Astros get ready to attempt a sweep of the Braves on Sunday:

  • Yordan has 6 homers and 25 RBIs after 21 ball games, which is on pace for 46 HRs and a whopping 193 RBIs. Or if you figure that over the 19 games he has actually played – that is a 162-game pace of 51 HRs and 213 RBIs!! And he’s doing this while only hitting .257, probably a product of teams being careful with what they throw him without giving him a bunch of intentional walks. He is not even leading the team with his .934 OPS. That honor goes to….
  • Kyle Tucker is leading the team with a .404 OBP and a .939 OPS. His 5 HRs and 17 RBIs are being overshadowed by Yordan, while being on pace for 38 HRs and 131 RBIs. If you want to look at a problem with the Astros, Tucker has only scored 8 runs on the season, which means with his 5 HRs, his teammates have only knocked him in 3 times. Between hits and walks he has been on base 36 times (31 times after you subtract the home runs). In addition he has 3 doubles and 4 SBs, so he has been in scoring position at least 7 times on his own. This is an area that needs to improve.
  • “And the rest” – kind of like Gilligan’s Island, there are the huge stars and then the others. After a rough start to the season, the offense has been improving due to better performances from the others. The biggest example is Mr. Hitting Streak, Mauricio Dubon, whose .333 BA (while only having 2 walks and 4 Ks in 72 ABs) meant a lot of turning the lineup over when he was batting 8th and a lot of table setting now that he has moved to the leadoff spot. Corey Julks like Dubon won’t walk to save his life (one on the season), but that .315 BA and .808 OPS with 5 XBHs in 54 ABs has been a great help to the end of the lineup. We’ve previously talked about what Chas McCormick brought to the lineup (when he was in the lineup), but have to say that with Chas out, Jake Meyers has played his best ball since his shoulder injury hitting .368 BA/ .947 OPS in the last 5 games after getting the starting job. After going hitless early in the season, Yainer Diaz has looked much better at the plate (when he ever gets to go to the plate).
  • After a shaky start to the season, the Astros’ bullpen has turned things around in the last couple of weeks. And leading that bullpen is the Astros’ secret weapon – Bryan Abreu. It is hard to remember that Abreu, in his first extensive time in the majors in 2021 was pretty bad, putting up a poor 5.75 ERA and 1.472 WHIP.  He turned it around with a very good 2022 – 1.94 ERA in 55 games in the regular season, followed by 11.1 innings/4 hits of scoreless ball in the playoffs. He has picked up where he left off with a 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings and 14.3 K/ 9 IP in 2023. He had an absolutely great appearance last Wednesday against the Blue Jays, coming in with the bases loaded and nobody out and not allowing a run to score. When he came in and closed the door for his first save this season  Saturday night, it was impossible not to wonder when that will be his job, not the exception.

Folks, any thoughts on your end?


22 comments on “Yordan, Pete, Kyle and the rest

  1. Had to watch the Braves TV so it was a little tough but kudos to those late innings guys. I really thought we should have gotten to Fried earlier but a few blown chances. Jake Meyers, Julks, and some very timely hitting did it for us. I have some criticisms to offer but we’ll let it pass for now. When the Astros won my girlfriend was getting out her broom for the sweep. Nice to have fan support like that.
    Now on to Tampa Bay!


    • I also had to watch the broadcast with the Braves crew. It ended up being worthwhile as they lamented towards the end of the game, “…at least we don’t have to see Alvarez and Tucker again until the WS.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wrote this post this morning before the ball game, not knowing that….Snitker would go back to the lefty well again and bring in Mintner to face Yordan and give up the game tying single and then give up a single to Tucker to lead off the ninth – leading to the winning rally.
    – Abreu was a little shaky with his control, but got help with a nice pick and double play start by Dubon.
    – Both Javier and Fried pitched well enough to win this one, but at least neither lost it
    – Dubon extends that hitting streak to 17 and this was no blooper – he hit a screamer off the fence to keep it going
    – Julks is just a hit machine – the moments don’t seem too big for the young man and again he puts one in play on a line and it found the hole
    – Bregman with a clutch single to give them some breathing room that made the bottom of the ninth a little less stressful.
    – And one question – who ever kidnapped Phil Maton and replaced him with a better model, would you please bring back the real Jose Abreu? I mean – just wow! Maton 10.2 innings – 0 runs – 2 hits – 1 walk – 13 Ks.


  3. If Frenchy keeps hitting, Baker will have to keep him in the line up. Besides giving the infield a day off, it puts him back out in center too. Poor Chas. If Jake keeps hitting he’s got to play too.


    • Streaks like this [the Jays and Braves series] bring out the superstitious baseball guy in me. I don’t want to say anything about how well our guys are playing, and how fun this is, because I might jinx [Brave’s fans might say ‘Julx’] it.

      But as Brian Wilson once said: “I’m picking up good vibrations …’


  4. Looked at the Astros stats this morning and realized:
    * Chas McCormick was producing much more than I remembered.
    * There is no accounting on my part for what Dubon and Julks are doing. They are playing much better than I had ever thought.
    * the three least productive position players are Abreu, Maldonado and Hensley.
    * Noticed this from last year: https://chipalatta.com/2022/08/13/this-is-probably-good-bye-for-uncle-mike/
    It is almost time to say hello again to Uncle Mike.
    * The Rays aren’t just tops in the standings. They are the clear #1 in offensive stats in MLB and it’s not even close.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that Bryan Abreu was the sparkplug for this resurgence. It seems as though, when he came in against Toronto with the bases loaded and no one out, that flipped the switch for the Astros. They have been playing really well since that moment.


    • Great comment Michael (and welcome). That was the kind of moment that gets the skin tingling for his fellow players and yes- they responded with a great weekend. I do hope they don’t have to come back every game against the Rays, because that might get to be a tall order.


  6. Do you think there was any thought in the mind of Snitker to walk Yordan with the bases loaded and reduce the lead 2-1?
    Even though he is not hitting for power Abreu throws enough protection to make the opposing managers think twice about doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So, with Yordan now out along with Altuve, Brantley, & McCormick, what handicap will MLB assign to us for the upcoming series with the Rays?


  8. Just concluded a weekend in Atlanta that included the zoo, aquarium, and some baseball. There were a surprising number of fellow Stros fans at the stadium. There were some not-so-happy Braves fans by game 3.

    Yordan is doing what we all fear. When there is that size of a person playing a lot of baseball, there is always a greater opportunity to get hurt. The thing is – Baker was treating him with kid’s gloves sitting him a few times, and that did not prevent this one.

    Not a good game today. But this is one tough Tampa team. I tell you Dave our boy going 0-4 with 2 Ks, he might not see the field for 4-5 days now. It’s early. Certainly, he will start catching more as the dog days get here. When the roster was announced, I feared he wouldn’t get 450 PAs. Unless something forces him into the lineup it seems unlikely – he can’t force himself like Julks has he just isn’t getting the PT to do it.


    • Steven, Diaz is a mess at the plate. It’s a problem because we’ve got a top prospect sitting on the bench more than any guy on the team except for Sanchez. Diaz should be playing everyday somewhere. His development is being hindered. My eyes tell me that he’s pretty good behind the plate, while Maldy seems to be withering. And unless I’m looking at the next J.R. Towles, I believe Yainer is going to hit at the major league level.


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