The Curious Case of Pedro Alvarez

This last week and a half have been trying times for the Pirate faithful. A 10 game losing streak has sent the team in a tailspin from first place to fourth, and nearly 10 games out of the NL Central lead.

There have been many lightning rods for criticism during this recent stretch, though no one seems to have more of a storm of negativity surrounding him than third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Some of it has been warranted. He did show up for the 2011 season out of shape which somewhat affected his performance and had much to do with his injury woes this season. His .206/.274/.300/.574 line is bad, especially for a third baseman. The Pirates were counting on him for at least 25 home runs and he has hit just three. On Friday, he turned in one of the worst offensive performances I have ever seen.

Add an error to that, and you can’t have a worse game.

However, the only thing worse than Pedro’s performance has been the reaction from fans on his struggles.

Many are calling for him to be sent down to the minors again. Even worse, others are calling him a “bust” and want him run out of town.

I think the Pirates are (Gasp!) making the right decision by playing Pedro every day out there. Here are the reasons why.

1.Small sample sizes misguide the uninformed fan.
A lot of people are freaking out about Pedro’s “lost” 2011 campaign. As I mentioned earlier, it is pretty horrible and there is no denying that. However, in no way should the Pirates give up on him. Since he was called up in June 2010, he has played 145 games in the majors, roughly one season. In that time he has hit .239 with 19 HR and 71 RBI with an OPS of .715, hardly an embarrassing stat line for a rookie season. It is complete rubbish to think that a 24 year old has hit his ceiling without even playing 162 career games yet. If we are seeing what we are in 2011 two or three years down the road, then it’s a completely different story.

2. He is still developing.
Let’s play a little guessing game. See if you can guess the players based on their statistics from their first full seasons worth of games in the Major Leagues.

Player A: .196 AVG/ 18 HR/ 62 RBI
Player B: .238 AVG/ 3 HR/ 32 RBI
Player C: .239 AVG/ 19 HR/ 71 RBI

Player A is Mike Schmitt, Player B is Brooks Robinson, and Player C is Pedro Alvarez. Many Hall of Fame sluggers struggled to hit early in their careers, but eventually found their stride. I’m not saying that Pedro will be the next Schmitt or Robinson, but there is certainly evidence out there that a breakout from Alvarez could be coming soon.

3. Playing him in AAA accomplishes nothing.
There is a second camp besides the “get rid of the bum” one that thinks Pedro was called up too early from Indianapolis and the Bucs should send him back down. The problem behind that is he has mastered hitting in the minors. In 84 games at the AAA level he has hit .295/.384/.544/.928 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS). In AA those numbers blow up to .333/.419/.590/1.009. Having him play against much inferior competition like that wouldn’t help him improve at all. He would become a much better major league hitter by getting reps off of major league pitching.

4. The other options aren’t much better.
The Pirates saw many faces play third during Pedro’s time on the DL. While the team won quite a few games with them, the production from this position, no matter who is playing, is actually quite poor.

Brandon Wood .236/.306/.388/.694/7 HR/24 RBI
Josh Harrison .263/.271/.305/.576/ 0 HR/ 5 RBI
Chase d’Arnaud .225/.245/.294/.539/ 0 HR/2 RBI
Pedro Alvarez .206/.274/.300/.574/ 3 HR/14 RBI

So for those who feel the Pirates would be better off with Wood or Harrison at the hot corner, the substitution would offer little to no help.

So what have I concluded here?

That there is plenty of evidence suggesting that the Pirates are better off sticking with Pedro Alvarez at third base. A lot of people may not like it, but think about this: Even if he had hit three home runs Friday night against the Padres rather than double plays, the Pirates still would have lost 15-14.

Find something else to complain about (ahem, the pitching).

Advertisements

About suhlmann12
journalism student at Ohio University. Huge fan of Pittsburgh sports teams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: