Newly extended Yordan continues torching baseballs
Slugger averages 104.6 mph exit velo, but robbed of a potential HR in opener
ARLINGTON -- Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez had the three hardest-hit balls of Monday’s game against the Rangers until the final pitch, when teammate Aledmys Díaz flied out to center field on a laser that had an exit velocity of 109.5 mph and sailed into the mitt of center fielder Leody Taveras to end the game.
Alvarez went 2-for-4 in the 5-3 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field, but he was left to lament a 366-foot fly ball in the fifth inning that would have been a two-run homer, had Adolis García not reached above the yellow line to catch it. García avoided eye contact with his close friend, Alvarez, as he ran back to the Rangers’ dugout, but Alvarez was able to joke about it later.
“I’m very happy for him to be able to make that play,” said Alvarez, who works out with García in Tampa, Fla., in the offseason. “He did his job to prevent the runs of the other team. Unfortunately, it was me, but I’m happy for him.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker hoped and prayed the ball had enough juice to sail over the wall as he watched it from the third-base dugout.
“Boy, that would have been big,” he said. “That would have been huge. I don’t know if it would have went out or not, but it was certainly flirting with the ball out there. [The Astros] got a bunch of hits. We hit some balls hard and just didn't find any holes.”
It’s impressive how hard Alvarez is hitting the ball. Entering Monday, his 95.8 mph average exit velocity ranked third in the Majors behind the Yankees’ mashing duo of Giancarlo Stanton (97.1 mph) and Aaron Judge (96.3 mph), and he ranked second in hard-hit rate (64 percent) behind the Mets’ J.D. Davis (64.6 percent). Judge was third at 62.6 percent.
Alvarez is hitting .500 (27-for-54) in his last 14 games with five home runs and 17 RBIs. He’s struck out (five) as many times as he’s walked (five) in that span, as he continues to emerge as one of the game’s top young sluggers.
“I think those are the things we work for and seeing the results we want happen feels really good,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez averaged a 104.6 mph exit velocity on his four balls put in play on Monday:
Exit velo: 91.1 mph
Hit probability: 71 percent
Result: Single to left, RBI
Exit velo: 111.9 mph
Hit probability: 88 percent
Result: Single to right
Exit velo: 109.2 mph
Hit probability: 41 percent
Result: Flyout to García in right
Exit velo: 106.3 mph
Hit probability: 61 percent
Result: Groundout to Ezequiel Duran in the shift
The lowest hit probability of the night came on what was nearly a two-run homer in the fifth. Alvarez crushed the ball, but it had a 44-degree launch angle and stayed in the air for seven seconds, allowing García to position himself at the wall and leap to make the grab and deny Alvarez his 18th homer. The flyout would have been a homer in 12 parks, including Minute Maid Park.
“He’s a really good fielder, really good player,” Alvarez said of García, a fellow Cuban. “The ball just didn’t have enough distance, and he made a play on it.”
Alvarez has 10 multihit games in his last 14 games, going 19-for-38 since it was reported he had agreed on a six-year, $115 million contract extension with the Astros on June 3. Maybe that’s a coincidence or maybe not, but Alvarez is earning his money.
“I think now that maybe I’m not thinking about the negotiations and the process, I can focus more [at] the plate subconsciously,” he said. “I think things are happening well.”