Alvarez is the third in franchise history to get the award

Astros' Yordan Alvarez wins AL Rookie of the Year

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

As expected, the MLB announced on Monday that the winner of the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Award is Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros. It comes as no surprise, considering Alvarez's performance since being called up on June 9th of this season was powerful, to say the least. He beats out the two other finalists: John Means of the Baltimore Orioles and Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays.

After dominating at the AAA level for the Round Rock Express where he led the minors in home runs (23) and RBIs (71) while hitting for a .343 average and 1.184 OPS over his 56 games before being promoted to the major leagues, he brought the same power to Houston's lineup. He wasted no time showing what he was capable of, notching his first career home run in his second at-bat at Minute Maid Park in his debut game.

He followed that by hitting home runs in four of his first five games and going on to slash .317 / .406 / .733 for a 1.139 OPS from his debut through the end of June, tenth best in all of the majors over that span. Though he finished the month with seven homers in just 60 at-bats, he also maintained his ability to drive in runs, notching 21 RBIs in his first sixteen games. He slowed down slightly in July, banging just five homers in 75 ABs to go along with 15 RBIs, though increasing his average to .333.

He picked the power back up in August and September, though, finishing the final two months of the regular season with a combined 15 home runs and 42 RBIs over 178 at-bats. That ended his regular season with 27 homers, 78 RBIs, a 1.067 OPS, and .313 average, a line that would have been decent for a full season, much less one that started in early June. One of the shining moments of his debut year came in the matchup with the Orioles on August 10th, a night when the Astros put up a franchise-record 23 runs, seven of which came off the bat of Alvarez on a three-homer night including a grand slam.

Although not factored into the voting, Alvarez did contribute in the postseason for Houston, though not at the same level as his regular-season numbers. He had just one home run in the playoffs, a two-run blast in World Series Game 5 against the Nationals in D.C. to help Houston take that game 7-1. He had just one other RBI in October, in ALDS Game 1 against the Rays, giving him just three total along with the one homer to leave his postseason stat line as something to improve on.

Nonetheless, Alvarez's power is something that Houston will gladly put in their DH spot as long as he can continue to drive in runs and be a difference-maker in a game with one swing of his hefty bat. Yordan is the third player in franchise history to win the Rookie of the Year award, joining Jeff Bagwell, who took home the honor for the National League in 1991 and Carlos Correa, who also won in the American League in 2015. The future is bright for this left-handed slugger and the Houston Astros as a result.

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Thursday night, the Rockets were able to take a bigger step in the seeding because of a 113-97 win against the Los Angeles Lakers. They were able to do so without their starting point guard, Russell Westbrook. James Harden had big night by providing 39 points, 12 assists, and shot 50% from three. Harden was even a plus 16 from the field of play.

Ever since the Harden entered the bubble, he has played exceptionally well on defense and offense. Harden has seen a numerous number of double teams since playing the Dallas Mavericks. But Harden said they prepare for it well in practice. This allows shooters like Ben McLemore, Jeff Green, PJ Tucker, and Austin Rivers to get open. Harden has been able to direct his teammates to the middle of the paint or kick it out to the corner.

"Really good. That's nothing new to us. We [have] seen that already. That's something actually we practice. We watch film on teams that trap. Guys are in their right spots, get some open shots, and [a] couple of layups," as Harden told the media Thursday night.

Harden in the last four games is averaging 33.8 points per game, shooting 35.8% from three, nine assists, and 5.3 steals a game.

Harden has played stellar defense in these four games as well. Before the playoffs start, Harden wants the Rockets' defense to be better. Even though the Rockets are 5th in steals, there still can be improvement. The Rockets defense has looked good in the bubble as well. They are ranked 7th in general team defense.

On a good note, coach Mike D'Antoni has admired Harden's defense while in the bubble.

"His commitment on defense is the number one thing. Really talking and trying to get guys to buy-in. You got to do it by example. He came up with steals and he is locked in. Whatever it takes to win," as D'Antoni said.

Harden did like the way they played defense Thursday night by holding the Lakers under 100 points. Especially, when Anthony Davis is on limited minutes and LeBron James did not play.

"What I'm really proud of is on the defensive end. They did not score 100 points. Even with LeBron [James] not playing and AD playing limited minutes, our goal is to defend on a high-level tonight and I think we did that tonight," as Harden said. "That's going to win us a championship, on the defensive end."

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