Many people had concerns about Pedro Alvarez heading into the season, and rightfully so. In his rookie campaign he had struck out 34.3% of the time (in 386 AB). Over his minor league career he posted a strikeout rate of 27.86%. Given that knowledge we knew there was a risk that he was going to hit for a poor average, but did anyone anticipate there also being issues with his power?
Currently sidelined with a quad injury, Alvarez is hitting just .212 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 9 R over his first 99 AB. It has been a horrific start, but is it really time to push the panic button?
Let us rewind one year. Yes, it was Pedro Alvarez’ rookie season but in his first 99 AB he was hitting .232 with 2 HR, 12 RBI and 10 R. He actually had an even worse strikeout rate, sitting at 38.38%. Rookie or not, it was ugly, especially for a player that many had such high expectations for.
Things got significantly better, however. Over his next 248 AB Alvarez hit .266 with 13 HR, 52 RBI and 32 R. Yes, he still struck out 32.66% of the time, but it is hard to argue with the results. He had a slugging percentage of .492, which would have placed him in the Top 40 in baseball if he had done it for the full season (and had enough AB to qualify). The numbers also came courtesy of a realistic .338 BABIP. Sure, it could regress, but it’s not a given.
That turnaround gives you a glimpse of just how streaky Alvarez could be. Just look at his home run totals by month from 2010:
- June (46 AB) – 0 HR
- July (94 AB) – 7 HR
- August (96 AB) – 3 HR
- September/October (103 AB) – 5 HR
When he gets going, he really gets going. He showed it in 2010 and there’s no reason to think that he can’t do it again in 2011.
The average is poor, despite a realistic .313 BABIP. However, he hasn’t hit for the power we would have expected. Once that happens, the average will rise. You didn’t draft him expecting a .300 hitter, so if he can get to .250-.260, which is very realistic, there would be nothing to be disappointed about.
Maybe these few days off will do Alvarez some good. Third base is a shallow position and, after a month, I wouldn’t recommend throwing in the towel on Alvarez in deeper formats. Having endured so much bad, why would you move him to the bench now (if healthy) when he could get hot at any minute? All you would be doing is missing out on the rebound. Does that make sense? Of course the injury throws a new twist into things, but the Pirates have said he’s not going on the DL. That tells you that he at least appears to be close (barring a setback). If you have a viable replacement it is one thing, but if you don’t he may be worth rolling the dice on still.
Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. If he is still struggling in 2-3 weeks, maybe I will be changing my tune, but for now stay the course and wait for the reward.
What are your thoughts on Alvarez? Do you think he will turn it around? Would you keep him active in your lineup?
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