With just over a month remaining in the regular season, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and Astros designated hitter/outfielder Yordan Alvarez look like the clear-cut front-runners for Rookie of the Year honors in their respective leagues. Alonso has been brilliant all season, and his excellence this summer has helped lead the Mets out of despair and into National League wild-card contention. Alvarez, meanwhile, has given the already loaded Astros yet another tremendous hitter in a lineup chock-full of them since the club promoted him to the majors June 9. But which of the two would you rather have for the long haul?
At least in terms of home runs, the 24-year-old Alonso has enjoyed one of the greatest first seasons in recent history. The Mets have been around since 1962, but Alonso already holds the franchise’s single-season record for most homers in a year. Alonso swatted his 42nd of the year Tuesday, thus helping him to an overall line of .265/.367/.596 across 556 plate appearances. The right-handed swinger has shown no vulnerability while facing either same-sided or lefty hurlers, evidenced by a 147 wRC+ against the former and a 149 mark versus the latter. Alonso’s 148 wRC+ ranks eighth among qualified hitters, while his 4.2 fWAR ties him for 23rd with Cubs third baseman and former NL MVP Kris Bryant. Plus, Alonso’s .382 expected weighted on-base average falls in the league’s 92nd percentile, per Statcast, and doesn’t sit too far behind his real wOBA of .398.
Statcast has looked even more favorably on the 22-year-old Alvarez’s production, giving him an eyebrow-raising .421 xwOBA that ranks fifth in the majors among those with 100 or more trips to the plate. Only offensive luminaries Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Nelson Cruz and Christian Yelich have outdone Alvarez in that category. Trout and Yellich have already won MVPs, while Bellinger could join them in the next couple months. Meantime, Alvarez’s actual wOBA (.456) outdoes every other batter’s by at least 10 points. His line of .329/.420/.703 with 21 homers in just 257 PA amounts to a 190 wRC+, which ranks first out of those with 200-plus trips to the plate, while he has already racked up 2.9 fWAR.
The lefty-hitting Alvarez, like Alonso, has brutalized pitchers of either handedness (199 wRC+ against righties, 170 wRC+ versus southpaws). Although Alvarez’s .367 batting average on balls in play seems unlikely to hold as he moves forward, it’s clear the stacked Astros have yet another world-class offensive building block on their hands.
MLB.com placed Alvarez 23rd among the game’s prospects at the time of his promotion, while Alonso was 51st shortly before the Mets elected to place him on their season-opening roster. It’s evident now they deserved better than even those high rankings. Alvarez seems likely to go down as one of the top heist pickups in recent memory, as the Astros acquired him from the Dodgers for reliever Josh Fields back in August 2016, while Alonso has been a steal of a draft pick for New York – which landed him in the second round in 2016. These two can already count themselves among baseball’s fiercest sluggers just a few months into their respective careers, and they’re likely on their way to ROY honors as a result. Who’s the better building block, though?
(Poll link for app users)