Houston Texans training camp: 11 sightings from Day 1
The Astros have had several appeals in recent memory that caused a ton of hype but were ultimately unsuccessful. Remember when Jon Singleton was supposed to change the direction of the franchise in 2014? On June 9, 2019, Yordan Alvarez had similar expectations for his debut. However, unlike others who started with a bang and ultimately failed, Alvarez only got better the longer he was in the league.
Everyone loves to see history made, even if it comes in the form of some weird combination of stats, like being the first player with certain initials to hit a home run on a specific date on the calendar. Many recognize that Alvarez is the best hitter in the league this year, but what if I told you he could become one of the best of all time and potentially be in the game to break some of the milestones? baseball’s most sacred histories?
An OPS of all time
If you’re not familiar with it, baseball-reference.com is a great website to look up stats for any player, past or present, and has a great set of all-time rankings, such as OPS. The threshold to make this list is 3,000 plate appearances, which is why you’ll see active players, like Mike Trout, who ranks eleventh with an OPS of 1.0001 in his 5,986 career plate appearances. so far.
You probably recognize plenty of names ahead of Trout, like fifth-place Barry Bonds and all-time leader Babe Ruth with an incredible 1.1636 OPS in his 10,626 career plate appearances. Since his debut in 2019, Alvarez has made 1,321 board appearances, including his first full season in 2021, where he had just under 600, which he is set to do again in 2022.
In those board appearances, his OPS sits at .983, but he’s steadily improved this season in his best year yet, where he leads all of MLB with a 1.088, which includes an on-base percentage of .414 AL-best and MLB-best .674 hitting percentage. If you put him on the all-time list as he sits now, he would have beaten Mark McGwire for 13th place. Put him on the list with 1.088 this season, and it’s good for third to go down Lou Gehrig.
There’s still a long way to go in terms of potential results before he gets the 1,679 extra appearances needed to make the roster, but where will he land when and if he does? If he stays healthy and gets around 600 AP per year on average, we might find out in just a few years.
The pinnacle of all stats – WAR
Wins over Substitution is a statistic that, in essence, sums up a player’s value. It attempts to tell the story of how many more games you would win with this player on the pitch versus a substitute. Albert Pujols leads active players, holding 32nd place at 99.5 in his 22 seasons at the majors, while Ruth leads that all-time stat at 183.1.
This stat accumulates throughout a career, ideally over time, as a player provides consistent success for their club. For position players, it is a combination of striking value and defense. Alvarez has increased his WAR by 3.8 points in 2021 and has already increased it by 4.7 more in 2022, to 12.2, which shows how well he is doing at the plate.
Yordan Alvarez’s career war (Fangraphs)Yordan Alvarez’s career war (Fangraphs)
Again, while you might not have the prowess on the pitch to speed things up even more, if you follow this trajectory over a long and healthy career, you’re talking about someone who could become one of the greatest of all time. Take out that crystal ball again and make predictions; if he can add to his WAR at those rates over 10-15 more years he would be in the top 50.
Make room in the trophy case
Alvarez already has the 2019 Rookie of the Year under his belt, was named the 2021 ALCS MVP and received his first All-Star nomination this season. But that might just be the tip of the iceberg for this young puncher. Right now, Aaron Judge is the undisputed leader in the American League MVP race, and thanks to his two-way bonus, Shohei Ohtani would probably be second to most people. Yordan Alvarez is firmly in the talk, however, and all it would take is Ohtani and Judge to end the year on cold streaks while Alvarez maintains his current pace for him to leap to the top.
Either way, and again, assuming he can have a long and healthy career, this probably won’t be the last we talk about Alvarez vying for MLB awards. We talk a lot, as it should, that Mike Trout is a generational talent, one that is the result of consistent high-level success over a long career. We’re also trying to find the next young talent to wear that crown, like the current hype surrounding players like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladmir Guerrero Jr.
What if Yordan Alvarez was the one to top them all? Sure, that’s a big if, but if the early years of his career are any indication, it’s more than likely, and we could possibly have another number retired and hanging from the rafters of Minute Maid Park.
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