Yordan Álvarez

From BR Bullpen


Yordan Ruben Álvarez

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 5", Weight 225 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Yordan Álvarez played for Las Tunas in the Cuban National League in 2013-14 and 2014-15. He hit just .196 at age 16 the first year, but then hit .351 with 17 RBI in 40 games as a 17-year-old sophomore. He then defected from Cuba and signed with the Houston Astros.

His first taste of organized baseball came in 2016 with the DSL Astros Orange of the Dominican Summer League where he hit .341 in 16 games. In 2017, he split his time between the Buies Creek Astros of the Florida State League and the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League, hitting a combined .304 in 90 games with 12 homers and 69 RBI. In 2018, he began the season with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League, where he hit .325 with 12 homers and 46 RBI in 43 games. That earned him a promotion to AAA and the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League. He played for the World team in the 2017 and 2018 Futures Game. In the second of these, he played the entire game at first base, going 1 for 3 with a walk. In 2018, between Corpus Christi and Fresno, he played 88 games and hit .293 with 20 bombs and 74 RBI.

He was back in the minors at the start of the 2019 season, not that he had anything left to prove in AAA, but the Astros were such a strong team that he could not break onto the roster. He proceeded to demolish PCL pitching over the first two months of the season, hitting .334 in 56 games, with 16 doubles, 23 homers and 71 RBI. On June 9th, he was finally given a chance to show what he could do in the Show, and did not waste it, hitting a two-run homer off Dylan Bundy of the Baltimore Orioles in his second at-bat to lead Houston to a 4-0 win. He homered again in his second game, June 11th, in a 10-8 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, thus becoming the first player in Astros history to go deep in his first two major league games. He added two more long balls in his next three games and finished June with a batting average of .317 in 16 games, 7 homers and 21 RBI, earning him the title of American League Rookie of the Month. On July 22nd, he broke a record set by Albert Pujols for most RBI in a player's first 30 games, when he drove in his 35th run in an 11-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. He repeated as Rookie of the Month in July, when he hit .333 with 5 homers and 15 RBI in 21 games; he also hit 7 doubles that month. On August 10th, he had a three-homer game in a 23-2 demolition of the Orioles; he scored 4 runs and drove in 7 in that game. The homers included a grand slam, and he now had 51 RBI in 45 games, beating the previous record of 47 set by Hall of Famer Ted Williams. He made it a trifecta of being named the Rookie of the Month when he won the award again in August, after hitting .309 with 9 homers and 26 RBI. On September 9th, the Astros set a record by homering 6 times in the first two innings of a game against the Oakland Athletics, and Álvarez was at the center of things, as he hit two of the long balls, the second of these - his 24th of the season - traveling 416 feet into the right field upper deck at Minute Maid Park, something only achieved one other time in the ballpark's history, by Jeromy Burnitz in 2000. The Astros ended up 15-0 winners. Overall, he batted .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers and 75 RBI and was named the American League Rookie of the Year. In the postseason, his bat cooled down as he hit just one homer in 18 games, that coming in the World Series against the Washington Nationals. Still, he did get his share of hits in the Division Series, when he went 6 for 19 (.316) and the Fall Classic (7 for 17, .412), although the ALCS was a complete write-off (1 for 22). Most of the hits were singles, however (he hit 3 doubles in addition to the single homer) and he only drove in 3 runs.

Alvarez then missed almost all of the 2020 season, only suiting up for 2 games during which he went 2 for 8 with a homer. He missed the first three weeks of the season after testing positive for COVID-19, then was shut down with a torn patellar tendon, before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Heading into 2021, with the Astros having lost slugger George Springer to free agency, it was clear that they would need a return to form by Yordan, but that was far from a given as the team headed into spring training. However, he showed his talent by having an excellent season, batting .277 in 144 games with 35 doubles, 33 homers, 92 runs and 104 RBIs. His OPS+ was 137. He continued to hit well in the postseason as he was named MVP of the 2021 ALCS in which the Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox in six games, going 12 for 23 (.522) with 5 extra-base hits, 7 runs and 6 RBIs. He could not keep that up in the World Series though, as the Atlanta Braves limited him to 2 hits in 20 at-bats.

He started 2022 very strong as at the end of May, he was hitting .266 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs. On June 3rd, it was reported that the Astros had signed him to a six-year contract extension worth $115 million, seeing him as a big part of their future. He was named the American League Player of the Month for the first time in June when he batted .418 with 9 homers and 28 RBIs. For all the press Aaron Judge was receiving for his homers, it was actually Yordan who was atop the major league leaderboard for OPS at the end of the month, at 1.070. He was named to the All-Star Game for the first time that season, but had to miss the game as the same day he was named, on July 10th, he was placed on the injured list with a hand injury. It was only a short break as he returned on July 21st. On August 3rd, he got a lot of ink when home plate umpire Jim Wolf lost track of the count and allowed him to continue batting after a called third strike by Rich Hill of the Boston Red Sox, as no else noticed either, and he got the benefit of another pitch, on which he grounded out. To be fair, such situations are not that uncommon as Retrosheet has recorded dozens of cases over the years, although the overwhelming majority of these are on walks that are either called after just three balls, or where the at-bat continues after the fourth ball, so his situation was still quite rare. On September 16th, he had the second three-homer game of his career, leading the Astros to a 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics. He finished the year at .306 in 135 games, with 37 homers, 95 runs scored and 97 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 187, being listed as both the Astros' starting left fielder and starting DH, as he played more games than anyone else on the team at both positions. In the first game of Division Series against the Seattle Mariners on october 11th, he hit a dramatic, three-run walk-off homer off Robbie Ray with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to give the Astros an 8-7 win. He drove in a total of five runs in that game, in addition to gunning down Ty France at home on a thrown from left field in a very impressive display of his superior skills. He was less spectacular in the next two series, going a combined 6 for 37 between the ALCS and World Series, but others picked up the slack and he ended up winning his first World Series ring that year.

On April 3, 2023, he hit the 100th home run of his career off José Cisnero of the Detroit Tigers. He was the quickest in team history to reach the mark, having needed just 372 games, well ahead of Lance Berkman who had done so in 452 games. He was named to the All-Star team for the second straight year, although he had to miss the game due to an injury. He was the American League Player of the Month for September when he hit .294 with 8 homers and an OPS of 1.060. He finished the season at .293 in 114 games, with 31 homers and 97 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 170. He was 13th in the voting for the MVP Award and would have finished higher were it not for the time missed. In the postseason, he was Houston's best hitter, batting .438 as they defeated the Minnesota Twins in the Division Series, and .481 in their loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. In 11 postseason games, he slugged 2 doubles, 1 triple and 6 homers, scored 12 runs and drove in 15 as a one-man wrecking crew.

He started off the 2024 season slowly, going 3 for 24 in his first six games as the Astros lost five of those games. He broke out of the slump in a big way on April 3rd with a 4 for 5 game against the Toronto Blue Jays that feature two homers and a double. He ended his day by flying out to deep center, leading Houston to an 8-0 win. As is typical for him, all five balls were scorched, all registering an exit velocity over 100 mph. On April 27th, he took advantage of the thin air at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú in Mexico City, homering twice in a 12-4 win over the Colorado Rockies, both of which traveled over 460 feet.

Notable Achievements[edit]

AL Rookie of the Year
2018 2019 2020
Shohei Ohtani Yordan Alvarez Kyle Lewis

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "This is the new best hitter in baseball", mlb.com, June 9, 2022. [1]
  • Scott Boeck: "Astros slugger Yordan Álvarez – who played 87 games – is unanimous AL Rookie of the Year", USA Today, November 11, 2019. [2]
  • Alyson Footer: Astros foresaw Alvarez's moment: 'You're the man today': Slugger belts 450-ft. go-ahead HR after rocky stretch in postseason", mlb.com, November 6, 2022. [3]
  • Alyson Footer: "History for 100: Yordan's homer sets Astros record", mlb.com, April 3, 2023. [4]
  • Alyson Footer: "Healthy Yordan 'feels good,' eyes LF reps", mlb.com, March 9, 2024. [5]
  • Cole Jacobson: "Big Papi dubs Yordan 'Baby Papi'", mlb.com, October 19, 2023. [6]
  • Matt Kelly: "'Air Yordan' could be '21's biggest X-factor: 2019's AL ROY brings big promise, big question marks to upcoming season", mlb.com, February 8, 2021. [7]
  • Daniel Kramer: "MVP Alvarez (.522) unstoppable in ALCS", mlb.com, October 23, 2021. [8]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Yordan, Astros agree to 6-year, $115M extension (source)", mlb.com, June 3, 2022. [9]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Alvarez muscling way into MVP discussion", mlb.com, June 22, 2022. [10]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Yordan's epic walk-off HR stuns M's in thriller", mlb.com, October 11, 2022. [11]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Yordan and Reggie Jackson are on a postseason list by themselves: 'He's a force': Astros slugger earns high praise from Mr. October", mlb.com, October 11, 2023. [12]
  • Andrew Simon: "Yordan enjoying historic start at plate", mlb.com, August 14, 2019. [13]
  • Juan Toribio: "With slate clean, Yordan has shot to be WS hero", mlb.com, October 21, 2019. [14]

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