When hitters around the Major Leagues are hitting home runs at an all-time high, it can prove difficult for a power hitter to stand out from the rest of the pack. Yordan Alvarez laughs at the word difficult. It’s not even in his vocabulary. What he did at Triple-A in April/May and then in the Majors from June 9th on, is simply unfair. If you excluded all games before his 6/9 debut, Alvarez might be the MVP of the American League. He’s been that good. So good, that American League hurlers routinely have nightmares about him the night before they’re scheduled to face the great Yordan Alvarez. But with his historic rookie season coming to an end (playoffs excluded), let’s break down Alvarez’s rookie campaign and see how much is for real and what we can expect moving forward. Spoiler alert, the future is extremely bright.
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Yordan Alvarez Dynasty Deep Dive
Tale of the Tape & History
Height: 6’5 | Weight: 225 | Bats/Throws: L/R
DOB: 6/27/1997 (Age 22) | From: Las Tunas, Cuba
Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers on 7/15/2016
Traded to Houston on 8/1/2016 for RHP Josh Fields
Promoted to Houston on 6/9/2019
Minor League Success
As I mentioned in the intro, Yordan Alvarez feasted on Triple-A pitching to start the season. Juiced ball or not, his performance was mouth-watering. In 56 games/213 at-bats, Alvarez slashed .343/.443/.742/1.184 with 16 doubles, 23 home runs, 71 RBI, 50 runs scored, and a 38/50 BB/K ratio. That’s just a 205 RBI pace over 162 games, no big deal. This after a .293/20 season in 335 at-bats in 2018 and .304/12 in the same number of at-bats in 2017. All in all, Alvarez ended his minor league career with a .311/.395/.561/.956 slash line, 56 doubles, and 56 home runs in 250 games. That’s good, right?
That minor league success, especially to start this season, vaulted Alvarez ahead of Kyle Tucker when the Astros needed a bat in early-June. While Tucker is a phenomenal offensive prospect in his own right, he just can’t quite match the offensive prowess of Mr. Alvarez. Tucker went on to finish with a 30/30 season at Triple-A, but like I said, Alvarez might have been the AL MVP from June 9th on. Combine his MLB and Triple-A stats together and you have some drool-inducing numbers.
Yordan Alvarez's 2019 season stats, #MLB & AAA combined.
137 G, 507 AB,
166 H, 39 2B, 50 HR, 148 RBI, 107 R, 355 TB
14.5 BB%, 22.5 K%#TakeItBack
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) September 22, 2019
There are two main areas that make Yordan Alvarez such a special talent. We’ll get into his gargantuan power in a second. But first, let’s discuss his contact skills that have led to high batting averages at every level he’s played at thus far.
A lot of sluggers like this can tend to struggle with one certain pitch type. Not Yordan Alvarez. Maybe you can say he struggles a tad with breaking balls. However, I wouldn’t necessarily call a .276 average, .701 slugging, and 10 home runs in 98 plate appearances “struggling” against those pitches.
Okay, so maybe he’s struggled against left-handed pitchers? Yeah, that has to be it! Wrong. And if I could make a buzzer sound here, you know I would.
The mighty Yordan has actually hit slightly better against southpaws this season with Houston. Only marginally, but still incredibly impressive for a rookie hitter. His average against southpaws is seven points higher, slugging is 27 points higher, and the strikeout rate is 5.9% lower than against right-handed pitchers. If you want to break it down by month, go right ahead. Alvarez hasn’t hit below .309 in any month this season. To take it further, his OBP has never been below .400, slugging never below .600, and OPS never below 1.000.
When looking at his zone charts, there are not many weaknesses to see here either. If you’re going to get him out, down and away or jamming him up and in are your best bets as an opposing pitcher. Or maybe that one small spot in the upper outside corner of the strike zone. But even these areas aren’t major weaknesses. And on top of that, Alvarez has the plate discipline to lay off these pitches and wait for a pitch in one of the countless other areas where he routinely mashes the baseball.
“Okay, Eric, we get it. Yordan Alvarez is really damn good!”
Do you though? I mean, I know you all know he’s really good, that’s not what the point of this article is. But Alvarez has a chance to be historically good. With his contact skills, feel for the zone, and barrel control, Alvarez has the tools to hit well over .300 in his career and contend for batting titles annually.
Let me start you off with a mammoth Alvarez home run from the first week of his Major League career.
Yordan Alvarez's at-bats are becoming must-watch TV. pic.twitter.com/j9zMlueWVP
— MLB (@MLB) June 15, 2019
His at-bats haven’t stopped being must-see TV either and we’re over three months removed from the above tweet. Go look at every type of metric out there that has to do with hitting the ball hard. I’ll bet money that you’ll find Yordan Alvarez’s name at or near the top of every list. For hitters with 200 batted balls, he currently has the 5th highest exit velocity on a single batted ball, 13th highest average exit velocity, 4th highest barrels per plate appearance, 6th highest barrels per batted ball, and has the 3rd highest hard contact rate since his promotion. Shall I continue? Yes? Okay.
Here are some more Alvarez goodies. He ranks 1st in SLG, 4th in xSLG, 1st in wOBA, 4th in xwOBA, 7th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 1st in OPS, 2nd in ISO, and 1st in wRC+. That’s a lot of red down below.
Now here they are compared to the rest of the Major Leagues…
Five of the six metrics above are about as good as you’ll see right now. The heck with sprint speed. We don’t need Alvarez to run when his offensive game is so robust. As you can see there’s elite raw power here with Alvarez and that’s already transitioning into game power. Alvarez generates exceptional bat speed with quick wrists and a swing geared for power. The swing path is direct to the ball with a slight uppercut swing path. A strong lower half and hips create plenty of torque in his swing, which coupled with his bat speed, produces the high exit velocities and hard contact you saw above.
Alvarez has been able to hit for plenty of power this season without the aid of a high fly ball rate. His 36.7% mark is solid, but usually, you see that mark over 40% for sluggers of this magnitude. Some might point to a high 34.2% HR/FB rate (4th highest since his debut) and point to some regression in the home run department in 2020. I disagree. While that mark is high, and would normally scream regression, with Alvarez’s batted ball data, it’s not unsustainable. Even a slight dip there could be cancelled out with a small bump in his fly-ball rate. So, basically, you can feel confident about Alvarez maintaining his status as one of the top power hitters in the game in 2020 and beyond.
If Alvarez was still a prospect, I’d grade his raw power as at least 70-grade, and maybe even borderline 80-grade. This is truly an elite power hitter we’re witnessing this season and a strong bet to be near the top of the home run leaderboard on an annual basis. You can expect plenty of 40-plus HR seasons in his future.
To boil the above down, we’re looking at a potential perennial MVP candidate in the American League. A player that has the skills to hit well over .300 with 40-plus home runs annually while hitting in the middle of a dangerous Astros lineup.
We obviously cannot predict how the lineup around him will look five years down the road. But for now, Alvarez will have George Springer, Josh Reddick, and Michael Brantley around next season, Carlos Correa through 2021, Yuli Gurriel through 2022, and both Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are signed through 2024. Not to mention Kyle Tucker who is beginning to force his way into the lineup. With all-star caliber hitters in front of him and after him in the lineup, Yordan seems like a mortal lock for 200+ R+RBI over a full season, and likely a lot more than that. The epitome of a four-category offensive monster.
Yordan Alvarez must’ve exploded this baseball because we have no idea where it landed 💣
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) September 10, 2019
I’ve long said that I’m not great at player comparisons, but sometimes, it just makes so much sense. As someone that has lived his entire life in Red Sox country, I got to witness the entire majestic career of David Ortiz. Big Papi was able to hit for mammoth power while also controlling the barrel and strike zone exceptionally well for a hitter with his power. I hate to put such a lofty comp on Alvarez, but if the shoe fits, wear it. Another comparison I’ve been on record as saying is Pete Alonso with a better hit tool. And if you’ve followed/read my work for longer than two seconds, you’ll know how high I am on Alonso.
In my most recent dynasty rankings update, Mr. Alvarez checked in at #16 overall, sandwiched between Rafael Devers and Trea Turner. Pushing the top-15 overall with half an MLB season under your belt is 110% an aggressive ranking on my part. But it was a ranking I 100% stood behind and now think might even be too low. If I was starting a dynasty league today, I would strongly consider taking Yordan Alvarez near the top-10 overall.
I’ll leave you with one last quote about Yordan Alvarez. A quote that might even make you more excited than the numbers in this article did, or even the comparisons I made above…
“There’s only one other player that I’ve seen up close like this that has the ability to drive the ball like he does and also just have a good feel for the strike zone and how to make contact, and that’s Albert Pujols. — Astros GM Jeff Luhnow on the Sean Salisbury Show on SportsTalk790 out of Houston.
Albert Pujols comp? Sign me up! Also, I don’t necessarily disagree with that either. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
What’s your take on the Yordan Alvarez? How high are you valuing him in 2020 and beyond in dynasty? Let us know in the comments below!
Media Credit: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire, The Sean Salisbury Show, SportsTalk 790, Jeff Luhnow, Baseball Savant, Baseball-Reference, MLB, FanGraphs, Bleature Report MLB.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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