Despite not beginning his big league career until June, Cuban-born Yordan Alvarez was the unanimous choice for the American League Rookie of the Year as determined by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The lefty slugger who draws comparisons to Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey with his tall, slender frame and sweeping power stroke, easily defeated fellow finalists John Means of Baltimore and Brandon Lowe of Tampa Bay for the honor.
Alvarez: First of many awards?
(c) Associated Press
This could be an historic week for the Astros as the American League Cy Young Award will be announced this week and will surely go to either Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole, both of Houston, while Alex Bregman is a finalist for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. No team has won all three awards in the same year.
Alvarez set a big league record with 51 RBIs in his first 45 games in the majors. For the year, he batted .313 with a 1.067 OPS, 27 homers, 26 doubles and 78 RBIs.
The 22-year-old outfielder/DH played 56 games with AAA Round Rock before his promotion and hit .343 with 23 homers and a 1.184 OPS. That means he produced 50 homers overall last season and one more in the World Series.
In other news, Bregman and outfielder George Springer were named as Silver Slugger Award winners. Pitcher Zack Greinke also won as a National Leaguer for his time with the Diamondbacks.
The Astros also announced a reorganization of the front office as Jim Crane's son, Jared, was added to the executive team and placed in charge of business operations. Former President of Business Operations, Reid Ryan, was retitled as Executive Adviser of Business Relations. Nolan Ryan, Reid's Hall-of-Fame father, who served as a consultant, announced he would no longer be part of the Astros organization.
Crane, 65, appears to be grooming his son to eventually take over the franchise while Reid Ryan is said to be exploring other opportunities after a successful career running the Round Rock Express and Corpus Christi Hooks before joining the Astros in 2013 after numerous gaffes by the previous management team in the early years of Crane's tenure as owner.
Nolan Ryan, who will be 73 next January, may possibly bolt back to the Texas Rangers as he has done in the past, or may focus more on ranching, finances and other parts of his successful business career.
The Astros were purchased for $465 million from grocery magnate Drayton McLane Jr. in 2011 (additional money was paid for a failed television network). According to Forbes, the Astros were valued in April 2019 as being worth $1.8 billion and has won two American League titles and one World's Championship since the sale.
- Bob Hulsey