2019 World Series: Astros' Yordan Alvarez looking forward to 'clean slate' after rough ALCS
The likely AL Rookie of the Year had only one hit and 12 strikeouts against the Yankees in the ALCS
HOUSTON — For Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, the ALCS could not end soon enough. The likely AL Rookie of the Year went 1 for 22 with 12 strikeouts in the six-game series against the Yankees, and manager A.J. Hinch was asked about benching Alvarez almost daily.
"He's going to DH and bat seventh tomorrow," Hinch said Monday, referring to Game 1 of the World Series against the Nationals. "I believe in Yordan."
You need not look back far to see the last time Alvarez had success at the plate. The 22-year-old went 6 for 19 (.316) with three doubles in the ALDS win over the Rays, and, of course, he swatted 27 homers in only 87 games during the regular season.
View Profile Yordan Alvarez HOU • DH • 44 BA.313R58HR27RBI78SB0
"Obviously during the series against the Yankees, it was challenging," Alvarez said through a translator Monday. "But it's a new count, it's a new day, it's a new series. I'm looking forward to taking on the challenge in a new series."
Hinch added: "We get to wipe the slate clean. He gets to start all over again in the World Series, and he's going to be facing some elite pitching. We need him to be good, to be at our best."
Alvarez's time to make an impact will in the World Series figures to be somewhat limited. Games 1 and 2 will be played in Minute Maid Park in Houston, and he will of course serve as the DH. The DH goes away once the series shifts to Washington.
"I look forward to him DHing both Game 1 and 2," Hinch said. "We'll see what happens when we get to Washington."
The Astros do not lack options to replace Alvarez. Top prospect Kyle Tucker is available to provide left-handed thump, or the club could shift Michael Brantley to DH and play standout defender Jake Marisnick in the outfield. Aledmys Diaz is an option against lefties too.
Ultimately, the Astros are betting on Alvarez's talent, which is immense. It can be easy to overreact to small sample sizes in the postseason — and necessary, sometimes, given the stakes — but sticking with the guy who had a monster regular season is never a bad idea, in my opinion.
The Astros managed to beat the Yankees without Alvarez providing much at the plate. It's hard to see them doing the same against the Nationals given Washington's rotation. Alvarez rewarding Hinch's faith in him is a necessary more than it is a luxury at this point.
"He's given me a lot of confidence," Alvarez said regarding Hinch's continued votes of confidence. "I feel very happy right now. I'm ready to perform in the World Series."