WRESTLING REPORT

The road to Wrestlemania is forming post Royal Rumble

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Coming off the heels of Sunday's Royal Rumble, some championships changed hands, some surprisingly didn't and the heat is building for WrestleMania.

Surprisingly Finn Balor didn't beat Brock Lesnar, but Seth Rollins did win the Men's Royal Rumble and at the end of RAW decided to challenge Lesnar for his title in the main event of WrestleMania. Ronda Rousey tried to cut a promo about being in the main even of WrestleMania but the fans weren't having it, further cementing the idea that the fans aren't enjoying a Rousey reign as Women's Champion and were chanting Becky's name long before Becky Lynch made a surprise appearance and cashed in the prize of her victory from the women's Royal Rumble and challenged Ronda to a title match at WrestleMania.

Two of the women's tag team entries into the elimination match for the women's tag team titles were set with both Tamina/Nia Jax and Liv Morgan/Sarah Logan qualifying for the match. Overall this was an average wrap up show with no real movement on anything although it looks like the Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins rivalry has come to an end as rumors are now abound that Ambrose won't be renewing his WWE contract and will likely be leaving post WrestleMania for those rumored greener pastures every wrestler's been dreaming about this year, All Elite Wrestling.

Yet again Smackdown launched with Lynch, her feud with Charlotte Flair continuing, but the crowd excited about her impending match with Rousey at WrestleMania also wasn't letting Charlotte talk, so they fought instead. R Truth had a great show as he first beat Shinsuke Nakamora and then Rusev immediately after to both win and defend the US Championship in the span of about twenty minutes.

The Mandy Rose/Naomi story took a slightly more believable turn as Mandy's desire for revenge was at least explained - even if it is paper thin - the tag titles are going to be put on the line against perennial tag team champ threats, The Usos. Smackdown lined up the Elimination Chamber main event with Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Mustafa Ali, Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. This is great news if it was 10 years ago, because aside from Mustafa Ali this is one of the oldest main events in recent history, reminiscent of the Triple H vs Sting Wrestlemania match of a few years back.

The road to WrestleMania is shaping up and one thing is obvious, the year of Becky Lynch and the rise of the Women of the WWE may be two of the biggest storylines of 2019.

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Yordan Alvarez is special. Composite photo by Brandon Strange.

The Astros have had several call-ups in recent memory that caused a ton of hype but didn't ultimately pan out. Remember when Jon Singleton was supposed to change the franchise's direction back in 2014? On June 9th, 2019, Yordan Alvarez had similar expectations for his debut. However, unlike others who started with a bang and ultimately fizzled out, Alvarez has kept getting better the longer he's been in the league.

Everyone enjoys seeing history made, even if it comes in some outlandish combination of statistics 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 might go down as one of the best of all time and potentially be in the mix to break some of baseball's most sacred historical milestones?

An all-time OPS

If you aren't familiar with it, baseball-reference.com is a terrific website for researching the stats of any player, past or present, and has a great set of all-time leaderboards, such as OPS. The threshold to get on that list is 3000 plate appearances, which is why you'll see some active players, like Mike Trout, who sits at eleventh with a 1.0001 OPS in his 5,986 career plate appearances thus far.

You probably recognize many of the names ahead of Trout, like Barry Bonds in fifth and the all-time leader, Babe Ruth, with an incredible 1.1636 OPS in his 10,626 career plate appearances. Since his 2019 debut, Alvarez has had 1,321 plate appearances, including his first complete season in 2021, where he had just shy of 600, which he's on pace to do again in 2022.

In those plate appearances, his OPS sits at .983, but he's been steadily improving that this season in his best year yet, where he leads all MLB with a 1.088, which is comprised of an AL-best .414 on-base percentage and MLB-best .674 slugging percentage. If you put him on the all-time list as he sits now, he'd beat out Mark McGwire for the 13th spot. Put him on the list with this season's 1.088, and that's good for third to move down Lou Gehrig.

There's still a long way to go in terms of potential outcomes before he gets the 1,679 additional plate appearances needed to get on the list, but where will he land when and if he gets there? If he stays healthy and gets around an average of 600 PAs per year, we could find out in just a couple of years.

The pinnacle of all stats - WAR

Wins above replacement is a statistic that, in essence, summarizes how valuable a player is. It attempts to tell the story of the number of additional games you'd win with that player on the field versus a replacement. Albert Pujols leads active players, owning the 32nd spot at 99.5 over his 22 seasons in the majors, while Ruth leads this stat all-time with 183.1.

This stat accumulates throughout a career, ideally going up over time as a player provides consistent success for his club. For position players, this is a combination of hitting and fielding value. Alvarez increased his WAR by 3.8 points in 2021 and has already moved it up by 4.7 more in 2022, up to 12.2, which shows just how well he's been doing at the plate.

Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)

Again, despite perhaps not having the fielding prowess to boost things even further, if you take that trajectory out over a lengthy and healthy career, you're talking about someone who could become one of the all-time greats. Take that crystal ball out again and do some forecasting; if he can add to his WAR at these 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 could be just the tip of the iceberg for this young slugger. Right now, Aaron Judge is the clear leader in the American League MVP race, and thanks to his two-way bonus, Shohei Ohtani would probably be most people's second. Yordan Alvarez is firmly in the discussion, though, and all it would take is Ohtani and Judge to finish the year on cold streaks while Alvarez keeps his current pace for him to jump on top.

Regardless, and once again, assuming he can have a long, healthy career, this will unlikely be the last time we talk about Alvarez vying for awards in the MLB. We talk, as we should, a lot about Mike Trout being a generational talent, which is the result of consistent high-level success over a lengthy career. We also try 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 is the one to surpass them all? Sure, it's a big if, but if the first few years of his career are any indication, it's more than possible, and we could eventually have another number retired and hanging from the rafters at Minute Maid Park.

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