The Houston Astros starting lineup is loaded from top to bottom. Yuli Gurriel is one of the hottest hitters in baseball with a .379 batting average, 15 home runs, and 43 RBI since the beginning of July. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Correa are all superstars. With so many great bats in this Astros lineup, baseball fans outside of Houston might be missing out on how much rookie Yordan Alvarez is contributing.
At 6’5”, 225 pounds, the 22-year-old Alvarez looks the part of a big-league slugger. And in a lineup full of big hitters, he may be the most valuable one of them all.
Yordan Alvarez’s sensational season at the plate
Yordan Alvarez was annihilating pitchers in the minor leagues this season before getting his big-league call-up. Through 56 games with Houston’s AAA affiliate, Alvarez racked up 50 runs, 23 home runs, 71 RBI, and a .343 batting average in just 253 plate appearances. It was obvious that the young designated hitter was a star in the making.
What wasn’t obvious was how easy Alvarez’s transition to the major leagues would be. The 22-year-old has virtually matched the production he had at the minor-league level in the majors with 26 runs, 14 home runs, 43 RBI, and a .348 batting average through his first 182 plate appearances with the Astros. His batting average, on-base percentage (.429), slugging percentage (.703), and OPS (1.131) all lead the team.
With a home run and two RBI in his 30th game as a pro, Alvarez surpassed Albert Pujols for the most RBI ever by a player through the first 30 games of his career with 35. When projected out over a full 162-game season, Alvarez’s first 43 games would yield a full season of 98 runs, 53 home runs, and 162 RBI. Of course, these numbers would be difficult to maintain over an entire season, but there’s little doubt that Yordan Alvarez has plenty of all-star seasons in his future.
His bat was a steady presence as the team recovered from injuries
Since his debut on June 6, 2019, Alvarez has spent most of his time in the heart of Astros batting order batting clean-up at No. 4 or right behind that slot at No. 5. Houston suffered through a 2-9 slump in June that could have lasted longer without Alvarez’s production at the plate.
George Springer was out for a month from late May through late June. Jose Altuve was out from the middle of May through the middle of June. Carlos Correa missed all of June and most of July before returning on July 26.
Now that the Astros lineup is healthy, we’ve seen a glimpse of what they can do; over Houston’s last 19 games, the Astros are 16-3 and averaging a whopping 6.68 runs per game on offense.
Rookie of the Year potential?
Yordan Alvarez has played so well in his small 43-game sample size that he has worked his way into the discussion for AL Rookie of the Year. Brandon Lowe appeared to be running away with the award, but an unfortunate injury to the Tampa Bay Rays second baseman has opened the door for Alvarez’s improbable rise.
Some individual hardware for Alvarez would be nice. But he and the Astros have their eyes set on the ultimate prize this season; winning their second World Series in three years.