Astros: Yordan Alvarez is slumping in last 15 starts

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

While Yordan Alvarez nursed a wrist injury this month, the left-hander hasn’t found his power as of late.

The Houston Astros dropped game two of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, 6-2. With Jose Urquidy struggling to find a rhythm on the mound, poor base running and a lack of run support left the Astros out of this game.

While the bullpen was one of the only highlights from Saturday with 3.2-scoreless innings, Yordan Alvarez continued to plummet his slash line. The left-hander nursed a wrist injury, suffered in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ series that sat him out four games. Since his injury, Alvarez hasn’t found his swing or produced any signature home runs.

What has Alvarez been doing different?

In the case of comparing stats to other seasons, we have to skip the two games Alvarez played in 2020. As many know, the left-hander had season-ending knee surgery that delayed and ended his season.

From there, advanced metrics have helped show that Alvarez was struggling to hit breaking balls two weeks ago, but there is a new difference in his swing. The left-hander’s launch angle has dropped from 13.4 to 12.6. This isn’t the biggest change in his approach on the ball, but his barreling is.

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Barrel percentage factors in “a batted ball with the perfect combination of exit velocity and launch angle.” For his 2019 ROY campaign, Alvarez had a 16.7 barrel % that was in the top 2% of the league. This is a good statistic for those who don’t know, but for 2021, it has dropped to 12.9%, which stands only in the 80th percentile of all major-league hitters.

Alvarez’s OPS has dropped from 1.033 on May 9 to .833, as of June 5. This extreme drop has also come with a home run drought, while the left-hander hasn’t met the outfield seats since May 12.

Slumps don’t last forever, but over his past 15 games, Alvarez is hitting .190/.242/.259 with a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate. We don’t expect the left-hander to take many walks, but it is obvious his pitch selection is off.

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The Astros are back on the field on Sunday to close out the series at 12:07 p.m. Luis Garcia is the probable starter. On the injury card, Jason Castro and Michael Brantley took batting practice on Saturday, as they anticipate a return soon.