Race for AL MVP: Yordan Alvarez vs. Aaron Judge
By Paul Conlon
Alvarez’s weekend in Kansas City
In addition to hitting two home runs well over 400 feet, Alvarez’s weekend in Kansas City saw his batting average and on-base percentage significantly increase. When he left Oakland on the team plane last Wednesday, his batting average sat at .272. Four days later, after finishing his series in Kansas City, his average ballooned to .295.
Friday night, Alvarez went three for five with a home run to center field. While in Kauffman Stadium, I remember how smooth and effortlessly his explosive swing appeared when he drove a 93 mile-per-hour fastball over the center field wall with a projected distance of nearly 430 feet.
As the left-handed slugger rounded the bases, he came across not arrogantly, but as cool, calm, and collected — a team player. Gurriel, who Alvarez’s blast to center drove in, gave him a handshake at home plate as they made their way back to the dugout. It really stuck then — Alvarez appears a great fit for the Astros’ team chemistry even without a bat in his hands, and really seems to be liked personally by his Houston teammates.
I remember listening to the collective buzz while in Kauffman Stadium as the crowd marveled at how fast the ball jumped off of Alvarez’s bat and made a line drive landing behind the centerfield wall. Many uttered a unified murmur — a gasp of disappointment, but also a tinge of admiration.
Saturday afternoon, though the Astros were shut out, Alvarez managed to get on base three times with a single and two walks. Then on Sunday, the right-handed slugger went three for four, a double shy of the cycle, and wound up on-base in four out of five chances after getting hit in the leg in the ninth inning.
And just when pitchers think they can retire Álvarez with their secondary offerings, Álvarez proves he is capable. Case in point, the Astro currently leads the major leagues with home runs off of changeups.
So, can Alvarez, the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year, catch Aaron Judge in the MVP race?