Yordan Alvarez is Heating Up Again: Ryan’s Reflections

by Ryan Kirksey
Alec Burleson Takes Over St. Louis

There is no way to get around it; the month of May was abysmal for Yordan Alvarez. Often drafted in the early second round in many fantasy leagues for his unparalleled power, Alvarez's bat cooled just as the weather warmed. In June however, it's been a different story. Yordan Alvarez is heating up again, more specifically, he has been scorching.

The Astros have had a disappointing start to the season, and many of their failures in May can be tied to Alvarez not hitting. As the consistent number three hitter in the Astros' order, he is called upon to drive in runs when stars Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker get on base. That didn't happen for long stretches last month, and there were specific reasons why.

This piece will look at fantasy baseball trends and focus on why Yordan Alvarez is heating up again. What did he do that flipped a switch when the calendar changed? Let's dive into some of Alvarez's performances and figure out why.

Yordan Alvarez is Heating Up Again

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Just how bad was the month of May for Alvarez? He still played above replacement-level standards but it was far below his own history. After slugging .474 in March/April with seven home runs and 18 RBI, Alvarez fell off a cliff. He slugged just .414 in May with only two bombs and four total RBI. That's normally a week for Alvarez, not one whole month. His groundball rate was up almost four points. His fly ball dropped 11 points. And he struck out 20% of the time compared to 14% in May.

Since June hit, Alvarez has been on fire. Entering Monday, he was hitting .433/.528/.967 with four home runs and 11 RBI in eight games. Only Aaron Judge has a higher slugging percentage and wOBA in all of baseball. His 13.9% walk rate was also top-25 among all hitters. This means when pitchers weren't walking him, he was destroying them.

Digging into the numbers, it appears Alvarez made a very conscious decision with his approach at the plate.

Alvarez is Pulling the Ball More With Great Success

In May, Alvarez got away from where he derives most of his power. His ability to pull the ball with unworldly exit velocity is where his power comes from, but that was lacking in May. In that month, he pulled the ball just 37.8% of the time. Towards the end of the month, that began to change and in June, that number is up to 51.7%. He's also hitting 24% to dead center, which means fewer than a quarter of his balls in play are hit to the opposite field.

Predictably, his performance spiked when this began to happen. From Fangraphs, it's easy to track Alvarez's wOBA and SLG% when he started pulling the ball more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at his spray chart from all his hits in 2024, you can see where he gets the most power. When he drives the ball to right field or right-center field, he hits tape-measure home runs. His three home runs to the opposite field this year are all shots that have barely cleared the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alvarez is back up to the 94th percentile in Statcast's new bat speed tracking data, and that's a positive sign for his future success.

What to Expect From Yordan Alvarez the Rest of 2024?

The Astros have some games in tough hitters' parks this week in San Francisco and Detroit. But Alvarez has proved himself to be ballpark-proof and has power that will play anywhere. As long as he sticks to the balls on the middle and inner half of the plate that he can pull, this type of league-winning power should continue. Fantasy managers have seen months before where Alvarez has carried a team with 10 home runs and 25 RBI. We could be in the beginning stages of a month like that.

The one thing missing from Alvarez's resume somehow is a 40-home run season. Injuries, slumps, or other factors have always kept him away from the home run leaderboards and Alvarez will look to change that this year. A month with just two home runs will be hard to overcome, but if he can average eight home runs per month the rest of the way, it should put him right there.

All of Alvarez's power metrics are in the 80th-96th percentile this year. This time, as the temperature increases, Alvarez's bat should keep up with the heat as well.


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