We all have regrets in life – and regrets in our fantasy sports life. With fantasy drafts behind us now, my biggest regret so far was selecting Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez late in the fourth round of my first draft of the year. That was back on January 30th, before COVID-19 was a household word and Alvarez went missing in action.
Who could forget last summer when Alvarez exploded onto the scene, establishing himself quickly as one of the best young players in the game? Playing exclusively at DH, Alvarez hit 27 homers in 87 games and had a 1.067 OPS to win AL Rookie of the Year honors. It was one of the best midseason debuts for a player in baseball history.
I couldn’t resist picking him up almost six months ago. The fact that he was only eligible to be inserted into the utility spot in a lineup did not dissuade me from taking him with the 39th pick in the draft. I passed on Fernando Tatis, Jr. to take Alvarez. Then, spring training started, and he was complaining about a sore left knee again and sat.
And sat. And sat. Astros manager Dusty Baker, when asked about Alvarez, said he just wasn’t progressing. Baker didn’t know when he would be fit to play again. If he wasn’t able to play the field because of his sore ankle, you’d think he could have still taken a few swings of the bat. But that didn’t happen either. Where was the fire in his belly?
I still thought Alvarez was going to be fine. The delayed season figured to work in his favor, giving him plenty of time to be ready for opening day and show off all of that ability. Then vague reports starts coming out about him not reporting to camp. The Astros, unlike other teams, wouldn’t say that the reason was testing positive for COVID.
The mystery surrounding the promising 22-year-old remains a mystery as opening day came. Alvarez could be back soon and call down the thunder on opposing teams like he did last year. But I doubt it. I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that Alvarez will report to camp weeks from now and will won’t be close to being in game shape.
In the meantime, I’ll spend my days dreaming about this fantasy team of mine with Tatis in the lineup and starting at shortstop. In my dream, Alvarez will be on another team. In my dream, he’s another owner’s problem to worry about. I could have had Tatis at the end of the fourth round back on January 30th. Did I already mention that?