Astros: Where Yordan Alvarez fits in lineup, and the effect on Kyle Tucker

Houston Astros, Yordan Alvarez (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Yordan Alvarez (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros are “very close” to getting Yordan Alvarez back, so let’s put the cart before the horse and see where he fits in this lineup.

The Houston Astros may be seeing Yordan Alvarez return sooner than expected, with Dusty Baker hinting that the young phenom is “very close” to returning, and it could be as early as this coming weekend series against the Seattle Mariners.

I feel kind of like a kid in November, when my parents tell me, “No, we can’t have Christmas on November 2nd. You have to wait until December 25th.” And then I wake up on November 3rd and it’s Christmas. We weren’t supposed to have Alvarez back this soon, now all of a sudden it could be tomorrow.

Anyway, the only thing left to do to prepare for his arrival is to look at where he fits into this lineup and who will be affected by his return.

Yordan Alvarez is coming back, now what’s that mean to Kyle Tucker?

The best way to start figuring that out is to look back to last year. Last year, Yordan Alvarez primarily batted fifth, with the occasional step up to the clean-up spot.

He sat just behind the usual four of Springer, Altuve, Bregman, and Brantley and was followed by Correa, Gurriel, Reddick, and then the catcher, with slight variations.

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That’s something that can easily be replicated this year, and it seems the most likely option. Gurriel is definitely catching on, but that’s what makes it so nice to drop him into the seventh spot. The 7, 8, and 9 spots were a point of pride last year, but this year it’s been more the opposite. Guys like Abraham Toro, Kyle Tucker, and Myles Straw have been filling out the lineup, but none of them have latched onto any sort of consistency.

So limit their usage down to one by dropping in Gurriel, keeping Martin Maldonado, then you have just one young wildcard sandwiched into known commodities.

But the Alvarez ripple effect doesn’t stop there. Since he is going to primarily be the DH, that means Michael Brantley has to play the field again, which would knock Kyle Tucker out of being a semi-regular. With the outfield composed of Springer, Reddick and Brantley, and with Tucker not having caught on like we wouldn’t liked, there’s no way around it. Ask any fan if they’d rather Alvarez or Tucker in the lineup and the answer should be unanimously Alvarez.

This makes for some tough decisions, since Tucker really hasn’t been that good, but his potential is arguably higher than anyone else in the system. It’s clear he’s a streaky hitter, he always has been, and putting him on pinch-hit duties with the occasional spot start doesn’t give him a chance to iron out the kinks in his plate approach.

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But this is Yordan Alvarez we’re talking about. There’s no way around it. And there’s no way I’m advocating for Tucker to start over Springer, Reddick, or Brantley.