How Yordan's early season trajectory raises exciting Astros organizational questions

HIGH, HIGH HOPES


Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez made history on Monday night by hitting his 100th career home run, making him the 5th fastest to do it.

Yordan is off to a fast start this season, with 2 home runs and 10 RBI in just six games. Which makes us question; how likely is he to win the AL MVP in 2023?

And furthermore, how many seasons does Yordan have to stack up to be in the best Astro ever conversation?

Be sure to check out the video above as we discuss how Yordan's at-bats are must-see TV, and project just how good he can be if he continues on this pace.

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Listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

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Let's end this debate once and for all. Composite Getty Image.

When Martin Maldonado comes to bat for the Chicago White Sox against the Astros this week, you can expect our TV and radio announcers to wax nostalgic about Maldy’s six years in Houston.

They’ll go on about how popular he was with fans and what a leader he was in the clubhouse. They’ll praise his defensive ability and mastery of the catcher position. They’ll talk about how pitchers had confidence in him and pitched their best with him in the lineup.

Social media will come alive with thoughts the Astros blew it by letting Maldonado go in free agency in favor of giving the full-time catcher job to Yanier Diaz.

Let’s put that defenseless talk to rest.

I could stop right here: Martin Maldonado is a terrible hitter, on course to put up the worst offensive numbers in baseball history. He’s a very below average defensive catcher, perhaps the worst in the Major Leagues.

As they used to say on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, let’s go to the tote board.

Maldonado, 37, is batting a ridiculously paltry .083. He has only nine hits in 107 at bats, with one homer and five RBI.

To put those lowly numbers in perspective, the worst season a player with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title in history was Orioles first baseman Chris Davis in 2018. Davis batted .168 that year.

Maldonado won’t reach the required number of plate appearances, but raw numbers, Davis’ batting average was more than double Maldonado’s current .083. Speaking of double, Maldonado has only two doubles this season. The season is almost half-over.

OK, he is horrible at the plate, the closest thing to an automatic out since Little League.

This from a Reddit post: there’s an expression to describe a terrible hitter … “He can’t hit his weight.” If you’re talking pounds, that’s been done many times over history. But if Maldonado stays the course, he will be the first ever who didn’t hit his weight in kilograms. He weighs 104 kilos.

Now let’s look at his defensive numbers. Surely those must be some impressive stats to justify his place in the starting lineup. Wrong. He simply can’t throw out base stealers, an important measure of a catcher’s defensive worth. This year, 34 runners have attempted to steal a base on Maldonado. He’s thrown out only two of them for a 6 percent success rate.

Maldonado has three passed balls this season. He had 12 passed balls last season with the Astros and led the league in that department. He is one of the most porous catchers over the past decade.

As for his intangibles and handling of pitchers, the White Sox have a team earned run average of 4.93. That’s good for 29th place in MLB. There are 30 teams. The White Sox staff’s WHIP is 1.42, also good for 29th place. The bullpen has 11 saves, yup, 29th place.

Not surprisingly, the White Sox are in last place in the American League Central with a 19-54 record. That’s a winning percentage of .260. Only five teams since 1900 have had a lower winning percentage for a season. The last time a team had a lower winning percentage than the 2024 White Sox was the hapless first-year New York Mets in 1962.

It’s not like the White Sox are doing so well they can withstand a catcher who can’t hit and can’t throw out base stealers.

So why is Maldonado still behind the plate for the White Sox? He has caught 38 games, more than half of the games the White Sox have played.

Here’s White Sox manager Pedro Grifol a couple of weeks ago: “I’m actually OK with his results at the plate. He hasn’t played 12 seasons because he hits .300.”

No, he’s played 12 seasons and his career batting average is .203.

More from Grifol: “He’s played as long as he’s played because he does what he does behind the plate. A future Hall of Fame manager (Dusty Baker), he wanted him behind the plate. There’s a reason for it.”

Let’s play $25,000 Pyramid. The answer is “Things a manager says before he loses his job.”

Meanwhile, for all the wringing of Astros fans’ hands over Yanier Diaz’s recent batting slump, chasing pitches outside the strike zone and grounding into double plays …

Diaz, 25, is hitting .260 (solid for a catcher) with seven home runs and 33 RBI (tied for third on the Astros). Over 44 games behind the plate, he has thrown out nine potential base stealers for a 20 percent success rate. He has no passed balls, this year or for his career.

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