Jordan Alvarez has been heralded for everything since his major league debut with the Houston Astros in 2019. The Cuban-born footballer and designated hitter is a fearsome presence in the batting box — he’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, but it would make sense. Take charge of these two numbers. Alvarez has done nothing but become a minor player, despite being smaller than his opponent on every level.
While evaluators predicted his arrival in 2020, Alvarez imposed it in 2019 when he laid out a ridiculous .343/ .443/ .742 streak with 23 home runs in just 56 Triple-A competition, earning a promotion even though he wasn’t on the List of 40 men. And after that upgrade, the beat tempo didn’t cross over to the .313/.412/.655 line. In raw numbers, he may have taken a small step back, but he has adapted to his periodicity, Alvarez was better on the majors.
In all, Alvarez hit 50 zingers, drove in 149 runs and was at least 70 percent better than his competitors. She is 22 years old. Had he put up those numbers over the course of an entire Major League season, he would surely have gotten a lot of attention for the league’s Most Valuable Player award. Sadly, Alvarez had to settle for the Rookie of the Year award, taking all 30 of the first-place votes.
But 2020 was a major setback, as Alvarez kicked off the season on the COVID-19 roster. Once he was finally able to get back on the field, disaster struck again: after just two games, a recurring knee injury ended his season. But after surgery to fix both knees, Alvarez bounced back well in 2021 hitting .277/.346/.531, even though he did well. Just 38% above the league average.
Here in 2022, Alvarez is the best version of himself, not only in getting back to his level in 2019, but surpassing him as well. So far, Alvarez’s .299/ .395/ .630 streak has done well for the 195 weighted best created rounds plus (wRC+), which is currently number two in the AL. In addition, his 17th home is ranked second after Aaron Judge. The recipe for success? Fairly simple: walk less and walk more.
|season||cross off%||percentage||Walk %||percentage||chase rate||percentage|
As for his career, Alvarez has had little trouble plotting walking trails. If the season ends today, his current running average of 13.0 percent wouldn’t be his best career in the majors. But what distinguished Alvarez this year is his refusal to chase stadiums outside the region. Prior to this season, Alvarez’s chase rate was close to the league average. This year, it only displays in stadiums outside the strike zone at 21 per cent.
With his better eye and more eclectic approach, Alvarez makes the most of his ups and downs. His ability to constantly mash up baseballs isn’t a new development, but this year he took things to new heights. So far this season, Alvarez puts the rest of baseball’s female baseball players in the hardest hit percentage, projected average hits, projected slow hit percentage, and projected hits weighted over the base average. By xWOBA in particular, Alvarez is ahead of the competition, topping the next best hitter by more than 30 points.
|1||Jordan Alvarez||Houston Astros||.434||.497|
|2||Aaron Judge||New York Yankees||.442||.463|
|3||Jock Pederson||San Francisco Giants||.389||.453|
|4||Bryce Harper||Philadelphia Phyllis||.413||.438|
|5||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels||.421||.427|
|6||Wilson Contreras||Chicago Cubs||.408||.427|
|7||Taylor Ward||Los Angeles Angels||.463||.427|
|8||Giancarlo Stanton||New York Yankees||.363||.420|
|9||Juan Soto||Washington citizens||.366||.417|
|10||JD Martinez||Boston Red Sox||.416||.414|
Another major improvement that cemented Alvarez’s success was his ability to deliver breakouts and acceleration. For the first time in his career, he hits non-fast balls better than he hits fast balls, with xwOBA scores of 0.526 against non-fast balls and 0.566 against broken balls. For hitters who appeared on at least 20 boards they saw either side of the field, Alvarez ranked fifth and first, respectively.
Since his debut in 2019, one hitter has fared better than Alvarez: lonely Mike Trout. By FanGraphs accounts, Alvarez also ranked 3rd in xwOBA, 3rd in average exit speed, 3rd in hard hit rate and 8th in barrel rate. Alvarez has earned more than one spot in the discussion of the best hitter on the planet.
The Astros think so too, rewarding him with an impressive six-year $115 million extension that will keep him in Houston through the 2028 season. Although he might leave some money on the table, as he was due to hit free agency at age 28, there’s no Reason to believe Alvarez can never get his paycheck back, given that his strike avoidance, drawing walks and striking skills for massive strength tend to age well. FanGraphs ZiPS projections make him a 4-WAR player or better for four of the six years on the deal, and when he finally reaches free agency, he’ll still be just 31 years old.
Big things were expected of Alvarez before he started playing at Minute Maid Park. So far, he’s delivered more than the Astros had hoped for. If he continues at this pace, Trout could have a competition for the top baseball player title.
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