There have been a lot of calls for Pedro Alvarez to get the call to the majors. Some of those calls have been because he’s been hot lately, mostly fueled by a 9-for-12 stretch in three games early in the week. Another reason for the calls is due to the lack of a strong third base option in the majors, with Chase d’Arnaud hitting for a .215/.240/.280 line in 93 at-bats, and Brandon Wood not doing much better, with a .209/.275/.344 line in 163 at-bats.
The Pirates need Pedro Alvarez. There’s no debating that. But they need the Pedro Alvarez that we saw glimpses of last year, when he put up a .280/.348/.493 line in 207 at-bats in August and September, along with nine homers. Is that what they can expect from Alvarez now, based on his AAA numbers?
The good news is that Alvarez is hitting. He’s got a .339/.441/.500 line in 56 at-bats. Most of that is fueled by that 9-for-12 run in three games at the start of the week. In that stretch, he hit both of his homers in AAA this year. The bad news is that Alvarez is striking out too much. He has 17 strikeouts in 56 at-bats, for a 30.4% strikeout rate. A lot of those strikeouts came in a three game series, occurring right before his hot streak. Alvarez struck out 7 times in 11 at-bats in a three game stretch, immediately before his 9-for-12 run at the plate.
In the last two weeks, we’ve seen Alvarez go on a three game run where he struck out seven out of eleven times, followed by a three game stretch where he went 9-for-12 with two homers. So which one is the real deal, and which one is the fluke? Should we be worried about the strikeouts, and chalk his hitting up to a weaker class of talent? Or should we focus on the hitting, and disregard the strikeouts as long as the production is there?
It should be noted that, since the previously mentioned six games, Alvarez has played three more games, going 2-for-10 with four strikeouts. However, Scott McCauley noted last night that Alvarez squared up on two balls, and looked the best he’s looked in the field. Obviously there are some encouraging signs, but I think we’re still in the “small sample size” range for his overall numbers. In the last week we’ve seen him look absolutely horrible in a three game stretch, and look absolutely dominant in a three game stretch. I’d like to give him at least another week to prove which version of Pedro Alvarez was the real deal. The team might need production at third base in the short term, but in the long term, the team needs Alvarez to get back on track and realize his potential.