We don’t see what 21-year-old Francisco Alvarez is doing often

Francisco Alvarez Mets
Francisco Alvarez (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Francisco Alvarez is living up to the hype, which is something that doesn’t necessarily happen often with blue-chip prospects of the New York Mets or highly-touted catching prospects around Major League Baseball. 

While the Mets slogged through a seven-game losing streak, which finally ended with a 5-1 win on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Alvarez continued to strengthen his grip on the starting catcher’s job less than four months after general manager Billy Eppler implored that the 21-year-old would not be in the major leagues until the “complete package” was ready. 

It’s ready.

As he continues to improve with his game-calling and defensive instincts behind the plate, his power bat remains an impressive headliner to his tool belt. 

Prior to Sunday’s series finale in Pittsburgh, Alvarez has four home runs in his last four games, including a solo shot in Saturday’s victory. It’s capped off an impressive 30-game stretch in which he’s slashed .270/.330/.660 (.990 OPS) with 11 home runs and 23 RBI. 

Francisco Alvarez Mets
New York Mets’ Francisco Alvarez hits a three run home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

With 12 round-trippers in just 43 games this season, Alvarez is producing at a clip that is seldom-seen from catchers — especially at this age. 

He’s tied with Atlanta’s Sean Murphy for the most home runs by a backstop this season despite the Braves catcher having 79 more plate appearances. Alvarez’s 136 at-bats this season actually rank 16th amongst all MLB catchers this year.

He’s just the third rookie catcher under the age of 22 to hit 12 or more home runs in a season and the first to do so since Darrell Porter hit 16 with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1973.

On this current pace, Alvarez is projected to slug 29 home runs in 107 games in 2023, which would be the third-most by a rookie catcher in MLB history behind Mike Piazza (35) with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994 and Matt Nokes (32) of the Detroit Tigers in 1987.

But the Mets legend in Piazza was 24 at the time and Nokes 23.

His torrid power pace also puts him on a path to potentially hit 30 home runs, which would make him just the eighth catcher since 2000 (Salvador Perez, Javy Lopez, Mike Piazza, Gary Sanchez, Mike Zunino, Charles Johnson, Jorge Posada) to reach that mark.

Only Sanchez (24, 26), and Johnson (28) were under the age of 30 when they hit the 30-home-run mark. 

At least the Mets can take solace amidst an avalanche of uncertainty that their hopeful franchise catcher of the future is just that. And it’s just the beginning.

Francisco Alvarez Mets
New York Mets’ Francisco Alvarez follows the flight of his three-run home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

For more on Francisco Alvarez and the Mets, visit AMNY.com