One of the most interesting stories we’ll be watching in 2020 is Yordan Álvarez. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is entering his second season in the Major Leagues and will try to repeat what he did last year to break Jeff Bagwell’s records and make history again.
As I wrote last week, Bagwell owns the best marks in Astros history in terms of home runs and runs batted in during the first 60 games of any season. He hit 20 out of the park in 1999 and drove in 60 runs in 1996.
Could Álvarez at least match those numbers? Based on his pace from a year ago, he could. However, I have to point out that he’s in place to miss the first games of the 2020 campaign, as he’s still on the 10-day IL.
But let’s take a look at the sophomore’s numbers in 2019 after 60 games. Guess what? The Cuban native was even BETTER than Bagwell! He had already registered 21 dingers and 62 ribbies. The question is whether he can repeat that feat or not.
An encouraging fact should be how he performed against Astros’ neighbors. He absolutely crushed them with ELEVEN of his 27 home runs:
Unfortunately, advanced stats didn’t exist in 1999 or at least were not indexed on sites like FanGraphs and Baseball Savant. But we can take a look at Yordan’s advanced statistics and see why he might have a chance.
The power shown by the Astros’ designated hitter was unbelievable. His barrel percentage was at 17.2% when the MLB average was 6.3%. His exit velocity was at 92.2 MPH, notably higher than average (88.2 MPH). Even better: his hard-hit percentage was at 48.4%, which means almost half of his batted balls was clocked at 95 MPH exit velocity or a higher. The MLB average was 33.9%.
Another good thing to look at. In his home run record-setting season, Bagwell hit one four-bagger every 13.4 at-bats. 5.8% of his plate appearances ended up out of the park. Regarding Álvarez, he sent one ball over the fence every 11.6 at-bats (7.3% of his plate appearances).
When it comes to the RBI mark, the Astros Hall of Famer registered one ribbie every 4.7 at-bats, while Álvarez did so every 4.0 at-bats during the first season of his career.
It seems Yordan could have a chance, especially if he doesn’t miss too much time and begins the campaign red hot offensively. Take into account that anything around 15-18 bombs and 45-50 RBIs will be a great, productive performance in the upcoming 60-game season.