The Houston Astros are back on the World Series prowl, in no small part due to the efforts of Yordan Alvarez. The 26-year-old slugger is off to a historic start to his career, with a 2022 championship ring and a loaded trophy cabinet to his name.
One has to imagine Alvarez will have ample opportunity to add to his list of accolades over the next decade-plus. Few MLB batters demand more respect from pitchers. Alvarez might be the most feared postseason operator left, which is something considering his relative inexperience and the other names still playing.
Would you rather face Yordan Alvarez or Bryce Harper right now? It's an impossible question. Probably Bryce Harper.
Alvarez has been so dominant that even David Ortiz, a sacred name in MLB circles, has been cited as a point of comparison. Of course, any time a modern player gets put on the same pedestal as a stone-cold Hall of Fame legend, it makes the baseball oldheads a bit queasy.
Does Alvarez deserve the hype? Well, the numbers don't lie.
Yordan Alvarez postseason stats compare favorably to David Oritz
It's hard to deny the rough similarities here. Alvarez has far less overall experience than Big Papi, who played 20 MLB seasons, but he has already appeared in over half as many postseason series in a quarter of the time (five MLB seasons). If the Astros can maintain their current stranglehold on the American League, Alvarez could end up surpassing Ortiz in a number of October statistical categories.
Of course, it's not a perfect one-for-one comparison. Ortiz batted a higher average in the playoffs and he got on base more. On the other hand, Alvarez has him beat in the slugging categories. With 12 home runs in 11 series, compared to 17 home runs in 18 series for Ortiz, Alvarez might actually have more raw power behind his swing. When we think of Big Papi, of course, we think of power.
In the broader context of their careers, Alvarez currently has a higher batting average (.295) than Ortiz (.286), so the Astros' upstart superstar has a genuine claim to the 'Baby Papi' monicker — made all the more legitimate by the simple fact that Ortiz himself made the comparison live on air. That is the ultimate seal of approval. Nobody understands Ortiz better than Ortiz.
It's way too soon to have a grasp on how Alvarez's career will play out, but he's on the fast track to Hall of Fame status with his current pace. He has 129 home runs in 1,738 career at-bats. Ortiz ended his singular career with 541 home runs in 8,640 at-bats. Again, simple math puts Alvarez on that kind of trajectory...
The Astros will hope to continue Alvarez's legacy with a second World Series victory in 2023. In eight postseason games to date, Alvarez is slashing .419/.457/1.065 with six home runs, 13 RBIs, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Or, in other words: L-O-L, what a stud.