The most versatile athlete in the Dodgers organization in 2022 added a new position to his bag of tricks during the season, his third straight year playing in the majors.
The Dodgers signed Alvarez to a minor league contract in November 2021 with a non-roster invitation to spring training, after he played parts of the previous two seasons in Miami.
Starting the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, Alvarez played shortstop, second base, and third base, which he did since becoming a professional baseball player in 2014. He also played seven games in left field for OKC, a position he played only once previously, in 2019 with New Orleans.
Alvarez was called up to the Dodgers on June 3 when Edwin Ríos landed on the injured list with a torn hamstring and Kevin Pillar was moved to the 60-day IL after shoulder surgery.
He started twice at third base for the Dodgers and filled in for two innings at shortstop at the end of a blowout giving Trea Turner a rare rest. Alvarez also started once in left field for Los Angeles, but most notably started four games in right field after Mookie Betts went on the injured list with a broken rib.
Right field was a new experience for the 32-year-old Alvarez, and while it wasn’t smooth by any means, it’s understandable the Dodgers thought he could handle it. Alvarez won a silver medal in the 2014 Olympics in short track speed skating, then earned another silver medal with Team USA baseball in the 2021 Olympics, becoming just the sixth athlete to medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
But outfield wasn’t really Alvarez’s game.
Alvarez’s versatility got him into 14 of the 26 games for which he was active, starting nine times. But he had just four singles in 25 at-bats, with nine strikeouts. He had the first sacrifice bunt of the season for the Dodgers, on June 21 (the team ended with three sacrifices on the season), and had a sacrifice fly as well.
That sac fly, coupled with no walks or hit by pitches, made Alvarez a rare Dodgers hitter. He’s just the eighth player in franchise history with a batting average (.160) higher than his on-base percentage (.154) in a season with at least 25 plate appearances.
Six of the other seven were pitchers, including Chad Billingsley in 2012, the last Dodger to do so. The other was Russ Mitchell, a third baseman who played the corner spots in the infield and outfield, who had a .143 batting average and .140 on-base percentage in 43 plate appearances in 2010.
Once Betts returned from the injured list on July 3, Alvarez was optioned back to Triple-A.
Alvarez thrived at the plate for Oklahoma City, hitting .322/.439/.554 with a 151 wRC+ and 21 extra-base hits in 47 games. That included nine hits in 19 at-bats, including three home runs and a double in four games after getting optioned to Triple-A. But he landed on the injured list on July 13 and didn’t play again during the season.
The Dodgers designated Alvarez for assignment on August 30 to make roster room for pitcher Heath Hembree, and he was released on September 5.
Stats: 14 games, 4-for-25 (.160), sacrifice fly, 3 RBI
Game of the year
June 5 was Alvarez’s second game with the Dodgers and his first start, playing third base against the Mets. He singled in the fifth inning against Trevor Williams, but the Dodgers trailed by two runs entering the ninth.
Will Smith hit a solo home run to open the frame, pulling the Dodgers within a run, but the next two batters grounded out. Chris Taylor doubled, setting the stage for Alvarez, who singled against Seth Lugo to tie the game, sending it to extras.
That was Alvarez’s lone multi-hit game in the majors in 2022, and fourth of his career.
Alvarez is a free agent.