Houston Astros, MLB

Yordan Álvarez makes Astros history, but is he an MVP candidate?

Aaron Judge seems to be running away with this year’s AL MVP Award, but Astros star Yordan Álvarez is making a case of his own.

Prior to last night’s action (although he went 2-4 with two home runs), Yordan Álvarez was putting up stats that rank amongst the best in Houston Astros history.

Álvarez has been on a tear as of late and has looked like one of the best overall players in the game this season. He is a near-lock to make his first career All-Star Game, likely as the starting designated hitter for the AL squad, and he has put this Astros team on his back.

As tweeter Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) points out, the 1.422 OPS is what stands out the most. Barry Bonds finished the 2004 season with the very same OPS in what arguably is the best season he ever had at the big league level (at the age of 39!).

Astros: Yordan Álvarez makes history, is he AL MVP?

Through his first 61 games of the year, Álvarez has 21 home runs, 51 RBI, an MLB-leading 1.064 OPS and an MLB-leading 201 OPS+. To put that in perspective, Aaron Judge, the MVP favorite to this point, has played in six more games than Álvarez and has just one more RBI and trails him in both OPS (1.042) and OPS+ (194).

If there was ever something to hold over Álvarez and his case for an MVP Award, it’d be his lack of defense. He is and always has been strictly a DH and hasn’t been very trustworthy out in left field with his large frame and sluggish routes.

This season, however, Álvarez has 28 games in left under his belt and has only made two errors in 237 innings. Baseball-Reference has his dWAR (defensive Wins Above Replacement) at -0.4 which, interestingly enough, is the exact same dWAR that Aaron Judge has in 226 innings in center and 274 in right this season. It’s worth mentioning that Judge has one of the stronger throwing arms in the game and plays the outfield in every game, not just occasionally like Álvarez.

It’s a tough call to pick between Álvarez, Judge, and Cleveland’s José Ramírez. All three players are dominating the game right now and appear to be pulling away as the early-season favorites to ultimately bring home the MVP hardware. The trio’s bWAR (3.3 for Yordan and 3.5 for both Judge and Ramírez) is neck and neck to this point, as is the case with most other statistics.

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