The last 10 games have been fairly promising for the Pittsburgh Pirates after a horrible start to the 2014 season. In their last 10 games, the Pirates went 6-4 and improved to 23-29 on the year. However, they can’t continue to climb in the standings if they don’t get consistency from their star third baseman, Pedro Alvarez.
Despite losing the final two games against the New York Mets at Citi Field, the Pirates have been playing better lately, I promise. The pitching has gotten better and the offense has arrived. In fact, the Pirates lead the National League in on-base percentage in the month of May. Unfortunately, after a great start to the season, Alvarez has fallen into a deep slump both defensively and at the plate, and he doesn’t appear to be getting out of it anytime soon.
Alvarez hit 36 home runs for the Bucs in 2013, and he appeared well on his way to shattering that number this season when he started the season off with several early homers. However, he has cooled down significantly lately and is at just nine home runs at this point. He is sporting a .214/.303/.374 triple-slash line after 211 plate appearances thus far with a wRC+ of 90. There are positive signs with Alvarez, though. For instance, he is walking in a career-high 10.9 percent of his plate appearances and he is striking out just 21.3 percent of the time.
Even worse than his offense this season has been Alvarez’s defense at the hot corner. After showing vast improvements in 2013, he has taken a giant step back this year.
On the season, Alvarez has made 12 errors — 11 of the throwing variety — at third base. He has a UZR/150 of just -8.9 and a UZR of -3.3. His fielding percentage of .935 is pathetic as well.
The Pirates need production from guys not named Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Ike Davis. Alvarez seems like the obvious candidate to pick up some of the offensive load, but he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently do so this year. If the Pirates want to contend, and they have quite a hill to climb, they need Alvarez to start playing like the All-Star he is.