Astros slugger Yordan Álvarez – who played 87 games – is unanimous AL Rookie of the Year

Scott Boeck

The Houston Astros have the Los Angeles Dodgers to thank. 

In 2016, the Dodgers sent Yordan Álvarez, then 19 years old, to the Astros for right-handed reliever Josh Fields. 

Three years later, Álvarez, now 22, had one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history.  

In return, the Astros slugger was the unanimous choice for the American League Rookie of the Year award on Monday, receiving all 30 first-place votes for 150 total points in voting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America at the end of the regular season.  

LHP John Means of the Baltimore Orioles received 53 points followed by second baseman Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays, who tallied 27 points.

Alvarez, who wasn’t even called up to the big leagues until June 9, made an immediate impact with the Astros. He homered in his debut and set franchise records with four homers in his first five games and seven in his first 12 games. 

Despite the late call-up, Álvarez finished with a franchise rookie record 27 home runs with 53 extra-base hits, collected 78 RBI and batted .313 in 87 games. 

He led all rookies in on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.655) and OPS (1.067), which was the highest by a rookie since Shoeless Joe Jackson (1.058) in 1911. Even adjusting for era, ballpark factors and offensive environments, only Jose Abreu in 2014 has been able to equal Alvarez’s 173 OPS+.

And he was big in clutch situations. The rookie hit .344 with runners in scoring position, with six home runs and 50 RBI. 

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Alvarez had 78 RBI in 87 games during the regular season.

Houston's has been deep with young talent in recent years and Álvarez follows in the footsteps of Carlos Correa, who won Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 and Jeff Bagwell, who won the award in 1991.

Alvarez is first full-time designated hitter to win the award since Bob Hamelin, who won the award in 1994 with the Kansas City Royals.

Álvarez's journey began in 2016 when he defected from Cuba and signed with the Dodgers. Less than two months later, Los Angeles shipped him to Houston.

“To be, what, 22 and be that good?” catcher Robinson Chirinos said during their World Series run. “When you see a kid that young and have the approach he has, it’s just special."