The Mets have started their current road trip with an 0-2 record. That’s not what the doctor ordered after an exciting homestand last week. However, rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez continues to solidify his position as the starter, even once Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido are ready to return.
The 21-year-old found a way to cut through the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night to hit his sixth home run of the year, and fifth in his last 11 games:
Alvarez flexed as he rounded third base, and he deserved to do that after getting this ball out of a windy Wrigley. #Mets #LGM pic.twitter.com/UwwCDwjrpe
— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) May 25, 2023
In discussing his growth at the big-league level over the past couple of months, SNY flashed a graphic showing the progression in Alvarez’s plate discipline. I wasn’t fast enough to snap a picture of it, so I’ll just give you the details.
SNY broke the backstop’s 2023 campaign into three periods, each spanning about a couple of weeks. Here’s how things have improved. (O-Swing% is chase rate, Z-Swing% is swing rate on strikes, Contact% is contact rate, and SwStr% is swinging-strike rate.)
That consistent decrease in chase rate is just a beautiful thing to see. The same can be said about his decreasing swinging-strike rate and rising contact rate. It’s impressive to see any player make adjustments on the fly like this. But for a 21-year-old rookie who looked overmatched at the start of this year and last fall?
This feels pretty rare, and just reinforces the hope that Francisco Alvarez is the long-term answer at catcher the Mets have been in search of for a while.
He’s still hitting a lot of ground balls, with that rate up at 56.3% for the year. And if we look at each of the above periods, his ground-ball rate hasn’t been below 50.0% at any point. But he’s still found a way to be a top producer at his position throughout the month of May.
Alvarez hasn’t been too much of a ground-ball-heavy hitter during his minor-league career. So, you’d have to imagine things will eventually straighten themselves out as he continues to get comfortable with the Mets. What’s most important is his process at the plate is becoming more sound. As long as that holds steady, the results will continue to come.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.