Alvarez, who led off the fifth with a homer that glanced off the right-field foul pole, leads the club in home runs and RBIs (88), thanks to a surge in August. The slugger has blasted six home runs in his last nine games. He’s surpassed the 27 homers he hit during his unanimous American League Rookie of the Year season in 2019.
“He has a tremendous ceiling,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “When he cuts his strikeouts down, he’ll even reach a higher ceiling. When he’s going good, he swings a very good bat. He’s not missing pitches, and he’s hitting the ball hard. Even his outs are [hit] hard. This time of year, when the pitchers are a little down, is when the strong guys take over. The strong guys are tired, but not as tired as the weaker guys. He should have a dynamite finish and a great last four or five weeks.”
Alvarez is slashing .305/.340/.674 with nine homers, eight doubles and 21 RBIs in August and has likely put himself into consideration for AL Comeback Player of the Year.
“I think everybody had goals coming into the year,” he said. “It’s a personal thing that you set to try and motivate yourself, and I just want to continue to produce as the year comes.”
The home run off Rangers starter Taylor Hearn came during the fifth inning, when the Astros got within 5-2 before unraveling in the bottom half of the inning. The Rangers scored eight runs in the fifth, including seven off reliever Bryan Abreu. Another Cuban slugger, Rangers designated hitter Adolis García, blasted a grand slam to blow the game open.
Coming off surgery on both knees, Alvarez was brought along slowly in the spring and didn’t get into a game until March 14. He played only at DH to begin the season before Baker felt confident in moving him to the outfield. He’s started a career-high 28 games in left field this season, giving the Astros more flexibility with their roster.
Alvarez slugged 27 homers and logged 78 RBIs in 87 games in ‘19, en route to being named the club’s third Rookie of the Year (Jeff Bagwell in the National League in 1991 and Carlos Correa in the American League in 2015). He played in only two games last year after having surgery to repair a slight tear of the patellar tendon in his right knee, while a routine cleanup was performed on his left knee.
Other than a pair of stints on the COVID-19 injured list earlier this year, he’s remained healthy and provided a lethal bat to the AL’s highest-scoring offense.
“I feel really good, thank God,” Alvarez said. “I think that was one of my main objectives and still is -- to stay healthy the entire year. Thank God I've been able to stay healthy to this point, and I hope I continue like that.”
“He looks great. I mean, unbelievable power and unbelievable hit tool,” said Alex Bregman, who went 2-for-4 in Sunday’s contest. “He’s one of the best in the game and it's awesome to have him on our team, that’s for sure. Tremendous hitter.”