How will Alvarez stack up against other high-profile call ups?
How will Yordan Alvarez's first season in the bigs go?
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.
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.
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.
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.