Through 43 plate appearances in 2013, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is hitting for a mediocre .079/.186/.079 slash line. Alvarez has hit cleanup for the Pirates for much of the young season and he has produced only one RBI. In his 43 plate appearances, he has only drawn five walks to go with 15 strikeouts.
I wrote a piece on Alvarez a few days ago examining if Alvarez should become a platoon player so he could only hit against right-handed pitching, and I said that seems like a good idea. At this point in his career, I don’t think he’s improving enough against lefties to show that he has the capabilities to ever become good enough to justify leaving him in the lineup against left-handed pitchers.
Alvarez started off very slowly in 2012 as well, so that brings up the question: Is Alvarez just a slow starter or is he going to be terrible all year?
In 2012, his batting averages in April and May were .203 and .207 respectively. It wasn’t until June that Alvarez started hitting. Once June arrived, he hit .262. Alvarez didn’t hit below .253 in a month for the rest of the season. In August, Alvarez hit .322 and had an on-base percentage of .425, something I don’t expect Alvarez to ever do again.
One thing is clear when examining Alvarez’s monthly splits: He is an extremely streaky hitter, with large peaks and even larger valleys. When he is slumping, he is one of the worst hitters (maybe even the worst hitter) in baseball. When he is hitting well, he is one of the best power hitters in baseball. He hit over five home runs in every month of the 2012 season except for May and September.
To answer the question ‘should Pirates’ fans be worried about Alvarez?’ at this point is difficult, because there isn’t a huge sample size to look from in his previous seasons. 2012 was his first full season, so that is the only place we can look to examine him. Based on one season, 2012, I would say that he will probably start hitting sometime in late May, but that’s purely a guess.
All I know for sure is once Pedro Alvarez starts to hit the ball out of the ballpark, I wouldn’t want to be a pitcher going against him.