Culture / Sporting Life

The 50 Home Run Man — Yordan Alvarez’s Unanimous Rookie of the Year Romp Draws Justin Verlander Love, Confirms the Crazy Feats to Come

This Astros Force is Already Working on Topping Dream Debut Season

BY // 11.12.19

Yordan Alvarez essentially ended any American League Rookie of the Year debate back on August 10 when he hit three home runs in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. The actual reveal on the MLB Network Monday night held about as much suspense as an episode of Paw Patrol.

It only confirmed that 30 baseball writers could be smart enough to see what was in front of them — and actually agree on it. The man who made the Astros a much more frightening offense from the moment he showed up at Minute Maid Park deserved to be the 11th unanimous AL Rookie of the Year winner.

Alvarez’s first season — really, little more than half a season — was so dominant he left no other choice but to vote for him.

He hit 50 home runs between Triple A and the Big Leagues, including 27 in just 87 games with the Astros.

It is rare that a player can post a season this good and still leave fans expecting so much more. That is exactly how Alvarez left Houston fans though. It is no great stretch to imagine Alvarez hitting 50 home runs in a Major League season sometime soon — and breaking Jeff Bagwell‘s single season Astros record of 48 home runs.

Few hitters, even in the Big Leagues, possess the raw power of Yordan Alvarez.

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But Astros fans are not the only ones expecting future feats of strength. You get the idea that Alvarez himself is certain he can do so much more.

On the night that the Astros season ended eight outs short of a World Series championship, Alvarez left Minute Maid clearly annoyed. Yes, he hit .412 in the World Series, proving that the Yankees’ cooling of his bat was only temporary, but he seemed pissed more than pleased.

“Obviously, it’s tough to get so close and not be able to do it,” Alvarez said through translator and confidant Oz Ocampo, who is leaving the Astros this offseason.

Alvarez’s last night of a spectacular season ended when a malfunctioning fire alarm in the Astros clubhouse started wailing, halting an interview and sending him on his way.

Twelve days later, with his Rookie of the Year status official, Alvarez talked of celebrating with his family on a conference call with reporters. But he also talked about working on his outfield defense with long sessions already planned in Tampa Bay and at the Astros spring training complex in West Palm Beach.

This is not someone who is going to rest on his rookie record 1.067 OPS.

The 22-year-old Alvarez is not someone who has been told he’s going t0 be a Major League star all his life. He is not Vladimir Gurrero Jr. who came into this season tabbed as the clear runaway favorite for AL Rookie of the Year.

Yordan Alvarez was traded to the Astros by the Dodgers — a team that’s proven to know something about stockpiling young talent — for unremarkable reliever Josh Fields. It wasn’t so long ago that Alvarez was a relatively unknown Cuban player who was no one’s super prospect.

Now that he is a hulk of a 6-foot-5, 225 pound force who hits home runs that have their own backstories, Alvarez continues to display the work ethic of someone who had to fight every step of the way. To get out of Cuba. To get a spring training look from the Astros. To move past the much more hyped Kyle Tucker in the Astros system.

“I just continue to fight,” Alvarez says on the last night of Houston’s season. “Hopefully it continues to work.”

Alvarez is already thinking of how he can be more than just the most dangerous DH in baseball for the Astros next season. Veteran teammates notice this kind of thing. Alvarez almost immediately became accepted into baseball’s most talented team in large part because of his desire to improve and his lack of a Big League attitude.

“I feel like I’ve matured a lot just being around my teammates this entire year,” Alvarez says after that Game 7 loss to Washington. “They’ve helped me a lot.”

Teammates like George Springer and Yuli Gurriel rooted for Alvarez — and openly advocated for his continued presence in the lineup — through those Yankee struggles. And there is Justin Verlander, the ultimate prove it vet, tweeting his joy at seeing Alvarez get his unanimous due on a November Monday.

That is no small endorsement. Yordan Alvarez is just getting started — and he is already far ahead of the game. Fifty home runs is not just within reach. It’s almost expected.

That is the real power of Yordan. His makes his teammates believe anything is possible from him, too.

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