Astros: Yordan Alvarez breaks out just when the Astros needed him most

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Yordan Alvarez continues to rake, mostly quietly, that is until Game 5 in Boston.

Yordan Alvarez supercharged the Houston Astros offense Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with a solo home run in the second inning to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. The left-hander also shot a two-run sixth inning double that made it 6-0, putting the Boston Red Sox out of grand slam range.

Alvarez is now batting .421 with eight hits through five games against Boston. One of the first articles I wrote for Climbing Tal’s Hill was a piece on Alvarez and his eye popping numbers after 162 major league games.

I found it intriguing that for the production coming off the young slugger’s bat, he didn’t seem to be talked about much on a regular basis as a star, not just nationally, but among Astros fans, too.

Perhaps that’s because the light that shines on Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa leaves others in the shadows. After all, this is the lineup that dares to have Kyle Tucker in the seven-hole in the midst of his best season yet.

To be fair, Alvarez was voted Rookie of the Year after the 2019 season, in which the then 22-year-old hit .313 with 27 homers and 78 RBI in 78 games (313 at-bats). The left-hander finished with an OPS+ of 173, and that’s certainly recognition on the national stage.

At the time of that first article, I reached out to Astros fans and wondered about the relative lack of interest in the slugger. Several replied with various reasons that ranged from his two-game 2020 season, his mostly DH role and his performance in the 2019 ALCS where he went 1-for-22 and struck out 12 times against the New York Yankees.

I was still fascinated and wrote about Alvarez pulverizing baseballs six weeks later. Crickets.

I admit I still don’t get it. Alvarez hit 33 home runs and drove in 104 runs with an OPS+ of 136 during the regular season, but he’s rarely mentioned among the best. Among designated hitters, Alvarez had the second best average (.277), fifth best OBP (.346), second best slugging % (.531), third highest wOBA (.370), second best wRC+ (138) and second highest fWAR (3.7).

Alvarez also started 39 regular-season games in left field and played 319 innings with one error. This leaves the possibility of him playing in a National League park open with select Astros’ pitchers on the mound, if Houston were to advance to the World Series.

Looking back at the reasons provided, I believe it’s a combination of all those things that has kept Alvarez’s profile relatively low. No Astros star shines brighter or takes up more of the conversation than Altuve, while Correa’s impending free agency also takes up a lot of space. Likewise, Tucker’s breakout season has impacted how the Astros are covered in 2021.

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A five-game sample size is tiny and there are big games left to be played and impressions left to be either cemented or changed. As the stakes get bigger and bigger and the spotlight gets hotter and hotter, now is Alvarez’s time to shine and prove his name belongs in the conversation along with Altuve, Correa and Tucker.