Following a huge home win against the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card game, the Pittsburgh Pirates will head to Busch Stadium on Thursday to take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. For the Pirates to win the series against the Red Birds, they will need a big couple games from third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
The Pirates will obviously need more than just Alvarez, but it’s too obvious to say someone like Andrew McCutchen will be a difference maker. You expect someone like McCutchen to be great, but the supporting cast is always going to be the biggest factor. Even though he was the National League home run leader with 36 home runs, it seems that Alvarez still flies a bit under the radar.
After drafting Alvarez second overall in the 2008 Amateur Draft, the Pirates suffered through many frustrating seasons with the power-hitting third baseman. Just when it seemed Alvarez wasn’t going to figure out MLB pitching, he finally turned it on last season, hitting 30 home runs for the Bucs. In the regular season of 2013, Alvarez hit for a decent .233/.296/.473 slash line, but his most important stats are his 36 home runs and 100 RBI. He is always going to strike out way more than fans would like — he struck out in 30.3 percent of his plate appearances in 2013 — but he is also going to have immense power in his bat for many more years to come.
Alvarez seems to play a lot better against NL Central teams, specifically the Reds and Cards, so hopefully he can provide some extra power to the Pirates’ lineup in their upcoming series against the Cardinals. They are definitely going to need it.