Francisco Alvarez is the Mets' X factor
Speaking of rookies, Francisco Alvarez is one of the most exciting rookies the Mets have had in quite some time. The big-swinging catcher has shown rare pop for his position, and his work in the field has been a pleasant surprise.
Alvarez has been good enough to earn the starting catching job for the Mets, but he seems to have hit the rookie wall in June. After looking like one of the best young hitters in the league in May, a month in which he mashed seven homers and briefly ran his average up to .271, he's crashed back to Earth with only four homers this month. His average has plummeted to .217, and he only recently ended a streak of 12 games without an RBI.
It's no coincidence that as Alvarez has struggled this month, so have the Mets. Buck Showalter has moved Alvarez all over in the lineup to find where the young catcher can do the most damage, sometimes batting him as high as second, and other times as low as ninth, but lately nothing has worked.
Even as he's struggled in recent games, Alvarez's at-bats still rank second behind Pete Alonso in my unofficial "Stop what you're doing and see if this Met can crush the ball" rankings. His smile and energy are second only to Francisco Lindor, and as a catcher he has the respect of Verlander and Scherzer, two future Hall of Famers. It's clear that he's a star in the making.
The Mets need his star power now, and a couple days off could be just the ticket for Alvarez to recharge his batteries and put a difficult month behind him. The Mets are staggered but not yet out, and getting back the Alvarez that can crush pitches deep into the Queens night is the best way to get up off the mat.
Let's be honest: the outlook isn't pretty for this Mets team. With 81 games to play, though, and a lot to prove, fans shouldn't be ready to write them off yet. If the Mets are going to make something of this season, McNeil, Senga, and Alvarez will have a lot to do with it.