Astros: Yordan Alvarez continues to pulverize baseballs

Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

When I first wrote about Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros back in July, I asked why he hadn’t received the national attention that some of the games other young stars had. After all, the left-hander had the third highest OPS in the history of the game through the first 162 games of his career.

Some Astros fans pointed out Alvarez’s tough post-season of 2019 as a factor.  While that may be the perception of Houston fans, the question was more of why the national media tends to ignore Yordan’s accomplishments and I just don’t believe it’s related to the 2019 post-season.

Also, to be fair to Alvarez, the majority of his failure was in the ALCS, a series the  Astros won, where a 1-for-22 performance overshadowed a .316 average and three doubles in the ALDS and a .412, one homer and four walk total in the World Series.

Alvarez has been on fire recently with six home runs and 11 RBI in his last nine games, but two things stick out to me as September approaches: Consistency and how hard Alvarez hits the ball. After hitting only two long balls in April, Alvarez has hit five (May), six (June), six (July) and nine (August) home runs in subsequent months while also driving in between 12 and 24 runs in each month.

Alvarez struggled a bit in July batting average wise with a .213 number, but every other month has seen averages between .280 and .315 and despite a mini-slump in August he’s still at .305 for the month. Earlier this week on Twitter I documented just how hard Alvarez hits the ball on average. His average exit velocity (92.9 MPH) is in the 94th percentile and max exit velocity (116.4) is in the 97th percentile.

Lest you think Yordan Alvarez is dominating right handed pitchers only, his average, his average, on base percentage and slugging are all higher vs. left handed pitchers.

But the one that stands out to me is the HardHit%, which tracks balls hit 95 MPH or higher.  Alvarez’s HardHit% sits in the 95th percentile and 53% of his batted balls meet this criteria.

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Over half the time the Alvarez’s bat meets the ball, it’s going 95 MPH or greater. Despite yesterday’s 13-2 loss to the Rangers, Alvarez hit a 102.9 MPH home run and had a 106.8 MPH groundout. Simply put Alvarez is pulverizing the ball.

To top it all off, Alvarez has improved his defense (and knees) enough to have started 27 games  and played 222 errorless innings (35 chances) in left field, mostly with ground ball pitchers on the mound. No one’s going to confuse him with a gold glover, but he’s serviceable and provides an option in certain situations.

As for those perceived postseason struggles? We all know the pitching gets better in October as fifth starters disappear, bullpens become shorter and batters face the best of the best. But it looks like Alvarez is going to get a chance to prove the doubters wrong on the national stage as FanGraphs gives the Astros a 98.0% chance of reaching the postseason.

Next. Josh James’ major-league return is long overdue. dark