There’s no questioning how good the Houston Astros are this year. From their stellar 1-2-3 of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Grienke, to their powerful lineup that hits on a consistent basis, this team is the real deal. This could be their year to win another World Series title, as long as they continue to play well in October. But this time around, they’ll have another exciting name contributing towards their World Series hopes: Yordan Alvarez.
You’ve probably heard the name considering how he’s one of the best young hitters in the game right now. Alvarez was acquired by Houston in the Josh Fields trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2016, and the 22-year old has raked at every level since. He slashed .343/.443/.742 in triple-A this year, smacking 23 home runs in just 56 games, forcing the Astros to call him up back in early-June.
Since getting the call-up, Alvarez has terrorized major-league pitching, just as he did in his minor-league career. He’s hitting .315 with 25 home runs and 75 RBIs through 77 contests. He has also hit 23 doubles, which helps make more than half of his 88 hits this season extra-base hits. His smooth left-handed stroke has been deadly at the major-league level. It’s not like he’s hitting wall-scrapers either. Alvarez is hitting high-velocity bombs that are absolute no-doubters. This kid is worth all the hype.
Per MLB Network, he also became the second-fastest player since 1900 to record 40 extra-base hits, needing just 62 games to reach the feat. First on that list? The legendary Joe DiMaggio, who took just 49 games. Third on the list — behind Alvarez — is another Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Pretty impressive company, to say the least.
Putting the Ball in the Air Often
Alvarez has a very simple approach from the left side of the plate, with a natural uppercut to his swing. His 13.9-degree average launch angle, which is more than a degree higher than the MLB average, reflects that. The majority of his home runs have been towering bombs that traveled 400-plus feet. His average home run distance this season is 410 feet, which is higher than the big-league average.
This bomb last week against the Oakland Athletics had a launch angle of 36 degrees and traveled an estimated 416 feet, but personally, it looked like it landed way further than that considering it ended up in the upper deck of Minute Maid Park and left his bat at 113.6 mph, according to Statcast:
Yordan Alvarez hit this ball to the moon 🤯💣 pic.twitter.com/qBHX6NaiF8
— Baseball Lifestyle™ (@BsbLifestyle__) September 10, 2019
His bat speed is out of this world. His barrel got to that inside fastball extremely quick, and the baseball absolutely flew off his bat. He’s ninth in the majors with an average exit velocity of 92.5, and he has the fifth-hardest hit ball this season at 117.9 mph.
I guess it isn’t a huge surprise that Alvarez is hitting so well in the majors considering that he has raked his entire professional career. But players usually still have a tough time immediately adjusting to pitchers at the major-league level. He has shown no signs of hitting a rookie wall, hitting .317 with seven home runs in his first 16 games back in June.
Using the Entire Field
The sign of a good hitter is using the entire field. Although most of Alvarez’s home runs have been to the pull side, he uses the entire field quite well. A lot of his singles and doubles have been hit the other way, along with a fair amount of his outs (Open the graph to see more):
He’s a smart enough hitter to stay back on a pitch when it’s on the outer half and hit it the other way. It hasn’t mattered whether he’s facing lefties or righties either, as he’s still hitting over .300 against both. You don’t often see a lefty hitter terrorize lefty arms. That matchup is usually a win-win for a pitcher because, more often than not, left-handed batters struggle against left-handed pitchers. For Alvarez, he thrives on either one. For example, Christian Yelich, one of the best hitters in the game who also hits left-handed, has hit .358 against righties this year but just .277 against lefties.
There’s no doubting how special Yordan Alvarez is. His first few months in the majors have reflected the type of things he’s capable of in the future. The 22-year old should definitely be a top candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Meanwhile, he will be a key piece for the Astros as they look to capture their second World Series title in the last three years this postseason.
To end off, here’s a compilation of Alvarez’s 10 longest home runs from this season: