The Houston Astros are set to play their next three games in Atlanta, at Truist Park, against the Braves in the 2021 World Series.
The series is tied at one win for each side, as the Braves won the first one but the Astros took the second.
During the first two games, the designated hitter rule was in effect since they were played on American League soil.
However, for the next three games in Atlanta, there will be no designated hitter: pitchers will take at-bats.
With that said, the Astros have one of the league’s best designated hitters in Yordan Alvarez.
The Most Dangerous Hitter In The Astros Lineup
Now, he will have to play left field as the Astros want to maximize his bat, at least in Friday’s game and probably in the additional two contests, too.
He is in the lineup as the starting left fielder on Friday.
The Astros against Ian Anderson: Altuve 4, Brantley 9, Bregman 5, Alvarez 7, Correa 6, Tucker 8, Gurriel 3, Maldonado 2, Garcia 1
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) October 29, 2021
The ALCS MVP was a monster at just about every stage of the 2021 season.
During the regular season, he hit .277/.346/.531 with 33 home runs, 104 RBI, and a very good .877 OPS.
He had a 1.166 OPS in four games against the Chicago White Sox in the American League Division Series.
Facing the Boston Red Sox in the Championship Series, he hit .522/.538/.870 with a homer, six RBI, and a 1.408 OPS, taking home MVP honors.
So far in a couple of World Series games, he has a 1.100 OPS.
So why is it such a big deal that he will be an outfielder in a National League park?
Because there are injury risks associated with playing Alvarez as an outfielder, his original position.
That’s why he is primarily a DH: to take the pressure of his surgically-repaired knees.
Astros manager Dusty Baker, however, is not about to bench his most potent bat for three games, and the organization decided to have him available as a left fielder for the next three games.
Different League, Different Responsibilities
Losing Alvarez’s bat for the next three games wasn’t an option for Baker and the Astros, so while the injury risk is significant, it’s not like he is a complete stranger to the outfield.
Yes, he was the designated hitter most of the time for Houston, as he appeared there in 98 games.
But he also played 41 games as an outfielder, starting 39 of them.
Dusty was a great hire from the beginning. No matter how unconventional he was with his managing, it was all for a purpose. People were at his neck for starting Yordan as much as he did in left field, which was ridiculous. It was all in preparation for the World Series away games
— Blanca (@JHardeno) October 28, 2021
The fact that Baker put Tucker in center, where he only has five career appearances, should tell you how badly he wants to keep Alvarez’s bat in the lineup.
Alvarez, while far from an elite fielder, isn’t a disaster on the field either, with -1 Outs Above Average.
Baker knows that World Series matchups require teams to field their best resources, and he has to make a balance of what he loses with Alvarez on the field and what he wins with him in the lineup.
He wins much, much more with him in the lineup.