How will Alvarez stack up against other high-profile call ups?

How will Yordan Alvarez's first season in the bigs go?

Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

We're one day into Yordan Alvarez's career, a day where he went 1 for 3 with a huge two-run home run for his first hit, but what many fans will want to know is: how will he look weeks and months from now once he has more experience under his belt? Conversely, how will he look once more of the league's top pitchers have faced him one or multiple times?

Let's take a stroll down baseball's memory lane and consider how some other highly-acclaimed prospects, both for Houston and around the league, did over their first 10, 25, and even 50 games in the majors.

Jose Altuve

If you've watched Astros baseball over the last few years, chances are at some point you've seen the video highlight of Altuve's first hit. It came in his very first game back on July 20th, 2011, but how did he fare after that? He performed excellently over his first ten games, recording a .371 average by going 13-for-35 over that span including two three-hit games.

He continued to hit well through his first 25 games, but would plateau a bit at the end of the 2011 season, going 14-for-67 in September to drag his average down to .276 to end the year. We all know that he's since become a hitting machine and AL MVP, but it was a case where he had initial success out the gate, then had to deal with pitchers adjusting to him with more exposure.

Alex Bregman

Contrary to Jose Altuve, Bregman had a much slower start to begin his time in the majors. Bregman did not record his first hit until his sixth game, and past that still managed only two hits over his first ten games, giving him an abysmal .053 average over that span.

Luckily, the team was patient with him, and he quickly turned things around. After his first 25 games, he had improved his average rapidly to .229 thanks in part to six multi-hit games over that span. He continued to adjust and build up discipline at the plate, ending the 2016 season with a .264 average and has gone on to stay near the top of the league in on-base percentage.

Carlos Correa 

Alvarez should try to get some of Correa's time in the clubhouse for tips and pointers because Correa's burst on the scene in June of 2015 was excellent and steady. Correa was able to check a hit off his list in his first game and went on to get hits in nine of his first ten games including four multi-hit games and also hitting three home runs in that span.

Correa would continue to provide reliable offense for Houston the rest of that year, finishing the regular season with a .279 average and racking up 68 RBIs along the way after his June 8th debut. He'd cap off his rookie season by going 7-for-24 with 4 RBIs and a two-homer game in the 2015 playoffs.

Others around the league

Those were some of the recent Astros debuts that garnered a lot of attention, but who does Yordan Alvarez have to compete against as he gets compared to other successful call-ups across the league? Well, let's take a look at the two Rookie of the Year winners from last season, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shoehei Ohtani.

First, Ohtani is a two-way player, so part of his debut and overall potential is shaped by his work on the mound, but let's take a look at his early numbers offensively. Ohtani did well in his first few games for the Angels, getting hits in eight of his first ten games, including getting his first hit in his debut and hitting for a .342 average over that span. He'd finish his rookie campaign with a .285 average, 22 home runs, and 61 RBIs.

Acuna had a decent start for the Braves in early 2018, getting his first hit out of the way in his first game on his way to going 13-for-42 for a .310 average over his first ten games. He'd regress slightly from that through his early months, dropping down to a .265 average before an injury sidelined him for most of June. After his return, though, he was a steady and reliable bat, finishing his rookie year with a .293 average.

What does all this mean for Alvarez?

Well, it proves two things. First, players like Yordan who have shown their potential at AAA deserve some patience if they don't hit dingers in every single game. See the above telling of Alex Bregman's poor start. Second, if he does come out of the gate quickly and replicates his crazy minor-league numbers against major-league pitching, it will be vital for him to find his steady, natural rhythm so that he can be a reliable contributor to the team and not plateau later and be a flash in the pan.

In any case, it will be an exciting time watching the early development of Yordan Alvarez. It will be especially intriguing to see if he's still in this lineup and making his presence known after the return of Houston's big guns in Altuve, Springer, and Correa. If Springer didn't already homer at the top of the lineup, chances are someone in the top of the lineup will get on base to give Alvarez plenty of opportunities for RBIs and multi-run homers this season.

There are plenty of reasons to watch

An exciting week ahead for the Astros

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the disappointing 12-0 blowout loss to the Blue Jays on Father's Day to end last week, Houston will turn the page to a new one with some compelling components to look forward to in the next seven days. With a full seven-game week ahead, here are some of the things to be watching for:

The Alvarez roadshow

We are six games into the Yordan Alvarez experience, and over those six games, he has homered in four. Some of those would have been home runs nearly anywhere, but this week we will get to see how he handles leaving the confines of Minute Maid Park.

Luckily for Alvarez, both Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Yankee Stadium in New York provide a boost for left-handed hitters, especially Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field. He'll also potentially get to face some pitchers who have been struggling with the long ball in Tyler Mahle for the Reds and J.A. Happ for the Yankees. It should shape up to be another big week at the plate for Alvarez, maintaining his at-bats as being much-watch TV.

Pitchers hitting in Cincinnati 

Houston will make their first trip to a National League park in 2019 to start the week with a three-game series with the Reds. The inter-league matchup presents the rare opportunity to see the DH-less Astros send their pitcher to the plate to try and contribute on offense.

The three pitchers we will get to see: Wade Miley, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole. Miley has a career batting average of .155 including one home run from back in 2013 with the Diamondbacks. Last year with the Brewers he hit .185 with five hits and a walk over 27 at-bats.

Cole is no stranger to the batter's box, playing the first five years of his career in the National League for Pittsburgh. He's a career .168 hitter and hit a home run in three out of his five seasons with the Pirates. However, he lost a little bit of his swing last season, going 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts for the Astros in his first season as part of his new American League team.

Then there's Justin Verlander. He has played in the AL his entire career, making him mostly a stranger at the plate. That makes it no surprise that his batting numbers aren't quite at the level of his dominant pitching numbers, hitting just .104 in his career. He has notched an RBI, though, getting the first of his career in 2017 for the Tigers before coming over to Houston.

So with that, it should be an entertaining series to start the week, and will likely make fans of the American League relish the fact that they get to have a Designated Hitter in the lineup every day.

Two starts for Verlander

While he may not be an All-Star with a bat, he's definitely on track to a lot of awards this year on the mound. Verlander is scheduled to make two starts this week, one on Tuesday night against the Reds, then another on Sunday in New York against the Yankees.

Not only does that mean two chances to see if Verlander can keep up the breakneck pace he's on in 2019, but it will also mean moving up another spot on the all-time strikeout list. At 2,831 in his career, he's just one away from tying, and two from passing, Mickey Lolich for the 19th spot on the famed list. Lolich has a connection with Justin, as he pitched thirteen seasons with the Tigers between 1963 and 1975.

Once Verlander takes over that spot, next up will be Jim Bunning who sits in 18th with 2,855 strikeouts, 24 ahead of the Astros' ace. Considering he threw 15 Ks in his last start, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be tied or in sole possession of that 18th spot before the week is over, though to do so he'll have to have a fantastic game against a very potent Yankees lineup.

Potential pieces coming back into place

We should know more after tomorrow's game which will be a back-to-back start for the former-MVP, but the Astros are expected to have Jose Altuve rejoin the team while on this road trip. Not that the Astros have been horrid on offense without him, but having him back on the field will provide an uptick in performance, and moral.

Two other players in similar situations as Altuve and expected to come back up are Max Stassi and Collin McHugh. Stassi will likely retake his roster spot as the backup catcher, meaning Garret Stubbs will make the trip back to Round Rock. As far as McHugh, we will have to wait and see if he makes some appearances out of the bullpen to ramp things back up before going back into the rotation, or if AJ Hinch has other plans going forward.

In any case, getting some of these players back means the team is getting healthy again. George Springer has been ramping up activities, and we should hear about a rehab assignment for him soon. Carlos Correa, however, remains sidelined and the Astros should remain conservative with his recovery.

Huge weekend series in the Bronx 

After the three-game set in Cincinnati against the Reds, the Astros will travel to New York for a big four-game weekend series with the Yankees. The Yankees made a big splash in the trade market this past week, taking advantage of a liquidating Mariners team who was willing to deal Edwin Encarnacion to New York for a lone prospect player along with some cash trading. Encarnacion currently leads the American League in home runs, giving the Yankees yet another mighty bat in their lineup.

Two of the other powerful batters that are scheduled to make returns to the lineup this week: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are currently on rehab stints and expected to rejoin the major-league team before this week is over. The Yankees will catch the 3-4-5-1 spots in Houston's rotation, which will be an intriguing matchup on both sides.

In any case, no matter who we see back in the lineups this weekend, it's going to be a fun and high-intensity matchup with these two teams currently both in the top four in win-loss records in the league. Also, the Yankees will likely be out to even the score after the Astros swept them in Houston in a three-game series in early April.

It sets up to be what many consider a preview of an ALDS or ALCS matchup between two of the best teams not only in the American League but the entire league.

Where will the Astros stand, both in their record and in roster spots, when this week concludes? It's hard to predict, but regardless, it should be a fun week to catch some Astros games on TV.

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