There Are 74 Yordan Alvarez Rookie Cards In Existence – A Look At The Some Of His Best
The Houston Astros’ designated hitter is only 25 years old, but Yordan Alvarez has positioned himself as one of baseball’s best hitters. After a stellar debut, Alvarez won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2019.
He missed all but two games of the 2020 season due to knee surgery, but returned to the field and continued to dominate in 2021.
On the big stage, the left-handed hitter torched opposing pitchers and won the 2021 American League Championship Series MVP.
Despite the statistics that jump off the page and the impressive accolades, baseball fans and investors seem to overlook Alvarez’s talent. We’ll delve into why this might be and if the skepticism is warranted.
Yordan Alvarez’s career in Major League Baseball
Standing sturdy six-and-a-half feet tall, Alvarez is an imposing figure in the batter’s box. His power to all fields was on display in his major league debut when he hit a 107-mph opposite-field home run for his first big league hit.
Pitchers weren’t able to figure out the young slugger in 2019. He earned back-to-back-to-back AL Rookie of the Month Awards after hitting at least .300 with an OPS better than 1.000 in each of June, July, and August.
He attacked pitches in the zone, lining hard-hit balls all over the field. When he made contact, Alvarez’s batting average was an unbelievable (but true!) .438. Despite striking out in a quarter of his plate appearances, his 14.1% walk rate was well above the league average.
The one hole Alvarez had in 2019 was against pitches up-and-away, but that was the area of the zone where he saw the fewest pitches.
After a promising rookie year, Alvarez couldn’t catch a break in 2020. He started the season on the COVID-19 injured list, missing the first few weeks of the season. When he returned in mid-August, the Astros shut Alvarez down after just two games due to knee discomfort. Knee problems, Alvarez said, have been something he’s battled since his time in the minor leagues.
Not only did he undergo surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right knee, but also underwent surgery on his left knee at the same time. Although it’s worrisome to hear of a 23-year-old player needing double knee surgery, Alvarez squashed any remaining doubts with a fantastic and fully healthy 2021 season.
After watching what he did in his first 87 games, investors likely wondered how much of his results were indicative of true talent versus a bit of rookie luck. He continued to hit for both average and power, maintaining a high quality of contact. Although there was a regression in his walk rate (14.1% to 8.4%), it wasn’t at the expense of more whiffs or strikeouts, despite pitchers throwing him fewer fastballs and more offspeed pitches.
The good news is that Alvarez was mostly the same player in 2021, even though his production regressed from MVP-like numbers to All-Star-worthy results. This was expected, though, because his fantastic rookie numbers seemed unsustainable.
Now, however, his 2022 numbers are as good and, in some cases, better than his rookie season. Underlying metrics based on the quality of batted-ball contact indicate he’s better than the already amazing results show. His 60.2% hard-hit rate blows away the 35.8% league average and is second only to Aaron Judge.
If we were to nit-pick Alvarez’s early seasons, we could critique his plate discipline. He was striking out in a quarter of his at-bats early on, but he’s significantly reduced his strikeout rate to 18.4% in 2022. He’s picked up his walk rate to be in line with the 14.1% he posted in 2019.
His ability to improve the holes in his offensive approach while continuing to dominate opposing pitchers signals a player worthy of a confident investment.
Yordan Alvarez: Standard Batting Stats
Yordon Alvarez: Advanced Batting Stats
Yordon Alvarez: Plate Discipline and Batted Ball Stats
Yordan Alvarez’s projections
Two of the major projection systems, ZiPS and Steamer, were confident that Alvarez would continue to produce at a high level in his age-25 season. Both systems predicted the Astros’ DH would put up very similar counting statistics (runs, hits, home runs, RBIs) as his 2019 totals if he could stay healthy.
The systems also projected Alvarez’s walk and strikeout rates to be right around the numbers we’ve seen him post thus far, with his walk rate near 10% (better than 2021 but not nearly as good as 2019). He’s still expected to produce a very good slash line (BA/OBP/SLG), with those numbers normalizing somewhere between his rookie year and 2021 numbers.
I’m happy to report that Alvarez blew both ZiPS and Steamer projections out of the water with his 2022 season. Here are those projections, along with his actual 2022 numbers so far:
|ZiPS 2022 Proj.||614||97||158||39||124||9.9%||24.3%||.290||.366||.575||4.9|
|Steamer 2022 Proj.||628||92||155||37||109||9.9%||23.1%||.279||.356||.543||3.8|
|Actual 2022 Stats||515||91||131||37||94||14.0%||18.4%||.304||.406||.626||6.3|
ZiPS provides a player comparison as part of its projections. Along with player performance, there’s a laundry list of things that go into generating a probable aging curve for players. Keeping this in mind, Adrián González was listed as Yordan Alvarez’s player comparison for 2022.
For Astros fans, the González comparison is a win. He created more runs than the average batter in 11 consecutive seasons from 24 to 34 years old, putting together MVP-caliber seasons from 2009 to 2011. From an investor’s standpoint, however, a comparison to González doesn’t add any excitement. We’ll dive into that below.
Alvarez’s actual 2022 season was much better than anyone predicted, so you’re probably not surprised to learn it was also much better than Adrián González’s age-25 season. When the 2023 projection comes out at the end of the year, it will be interesting to see how they value the slugger’s 2022 production. I’d also expect a player comparison much more in line with the way both fans and investors view Alvarez.
For what it’s worth, Baseball-Reference’s similarity scores list Hall of Famer Willie McCovey as Alvarez’s most similar batter through this point in his career.
How does the hobby currently feel about Yordan Alvarez rookie cards?
Alvarez’s first prospect cards came out in 2018, with his official rookie cards being held until 2020. There’s no shortage of Yordan Alvarez cards to choose from. Beckett reports 5,122 total cards, 74 being rookie cards and 1,890 autographs.
We’ll start with a few of his popular prospect cards, giving you the most recent sale price for a PSA-10 and the card’s population report. Then we’ll do the same with a few of his rookie cards. The cards listed below have various parallels, but we’ll be listing the base card and one or two parallels.
- 2018 Bowman Chrome Prospects Autographs #CPAYA
- 2018 Bowman’s Best Best of 2018 Autographs #B18YA
- 2020 Topps Rookie Card #276
- 2020 Topps Chrome Rookie Card #200
What should we expect moving forward?
Let’s start with why the Adrián González comparison doesn’t thrill me from an investor’s standpoint. Despite being the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, the hype died down based on available PSA data.
González’s 2000 Bowman Chrome rookie cards in gem mint condition are valued between $10-$20, with sale prices spiking just a handful of times over the past eight years. If there was any sort of value in his cards early in his career, they have not maintained that value at all.
One thing that González had that Alvarez does not is that he was a position player. Prior to the 2022 season, Alvarez spent most of his time in the designated hitter’s spot and played left field when needed.
Because his defense was sub-par and given his injury history, I (and likely many others) figured Alvarez would assume a full-time DH role. Below are card values for other designated hitters around the league:
- Nelson Cruz rookie card: $155
- J.D. Martinez rookie card: $60
- Jorge Soler rookie card: $35
- Giancarlo Stanton rookie card: $52
I’ll admit, however, that I was wrong. Alvarez’s has played a career high 53 games in left field this season, with his other 68 starts coming at DH. To his credit, the 6-foot-5 player has held his own on defense. Two of the three advanced defensive metrics have Alvarez as a top-10 defensive left fielder. Astros’ manager Dusty Baker has even noticed than his young player has “worked extremely hard on his defense” as of late.
Investors tend to gravitate towards offensive superstars, and Yordan Alvarez has clearly proved he’s one of the best hitters in baseball. If he winds up being more of a DH than an outfielder, I don’t think it would make or break his card value. If he proves he can regularly play a position (and play it well), that can only help.
Yordan Alvarez’s Top 5 Rookie Cards
The list below shows five of Alvarez’s most valuable cards, along with the most recent PSA-10 sale for each card. Prices correct at the time of this post.
2018 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph Gold Refractor (/50) #CPAYA: $8,600
2020 Topps Chrome Rookie Autograph Red Refractor (/5) #RAYA: $5,634
2020 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph Orange Refractor (/25) #CRAYA: $2,619
2020 Bowman Heritage Chrome Autograph Gold Refractor (/50) #YA: $1,199
Bottom Line: Is Yordan Alvarez worth investing in?
Because Alvarez seems to fly under the radar compared to some other top sluggers, many of his cards are reasonably priced, I think the risk is whether or not the Astros slugger can stay healthy. If the knee injuries reoccur and prohibit him from turning into a star, investors might end up saying he was a bust.
From what he’s shown in 2022, Alvarez has been able to stay on the field and turned himself into one of the best hitters in baseball. Alvarez’s offensive profile should easily propel his cards to the forefront of the hobby. For those hesitant to splurge on his Bowman prospect cards but still want in, Yordan Alvarez’s 2020 rookie cards are a more reasonable alternative.