The most polarizing player on the entire Pittsburgh Pirates’ roster is Pedro Alvarez. When it comes to the Pirates’ third baseman, the team’s fanbase is divided. Some fans love Alvarez and his National League-leading 36 home runs. Others can’t stand him because of his 186 strikeouts. Instead of being divided, maybe we should just accept Alvarez for what he is — a third baseman that hits a lot of home runs, but also strikes out a lot.
Obviously, the criticism that Alvarez receives regarding his strikeouts is deserved. No player should be striking out in 30.3 percent of his plate appearances. However, let’s not forget that he is basically the only legitimate home run threat in the Pirates’ lineup. The team needs his thump in the middle of the order to protect Andrew McCutchen. Without the threat of Alvarez looming behind him, why would any team even consider pitching to McCutchen?
On Wednesday, Minnesota Twins starter Kevin Correia got a first-hand look at what kind of power Alvarez possesses in his bat. In the third inning, Alvarez went yard off of Correia. It was his second homer of the spring.
Spring Training numbers shouldn’t be taken too seriously. They are, of course, just exhibition games. With Alvarez, I do take some notice when he is hitting the ball well. If you have seen any of Alvarez during his time with the Pirates, you have probably observed that he is a very streaky hitter. Much of his game depends on his confidence level at any given time. Alvarez hitting the ball well in Spring Training might not seem like a big deal, but it could go a long way in helping the third baseman get off to a hot start in the 2014 regular season.