The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting creative on how to use their power hitter Pedro Alvarez. The lifelong third baseman has been working at first base in batting practice and it looks like the Pirates are thinking about moving him across the diamond to avoid his throwing issues. However, moving Alvarez to first base is not a good idea.
First of all, Alvarez has never played at first base in his life. Many people say that you can stick anyone at first base and they can play, but this is just not true. Many super utility players have claimed that first base is the hardest position to play out of the several that they regularly field. One example of how hard it is to play first base is provided by Jay Bruce this year.
The Cincinnati Reds tried to use him at first base while Joey Votto was hurt and he was so bad they gave up the experiment after only two games. And Bruce was a player who had some experience playing there, so moving Alvarez over to first would take a lot of time defensively because he will have to learn the footwork that comes with the position and how to pick a ball thrown to first. This is nothing to try in the middle of a pennant race.
Another reason why Alvarez is being considered for a move to first is because the Pirates think it might be an upgrade in the lineup over Ike Davis, but that is also not true. Davis has a better career OPS against right-handed pitchers than Alvarez. Davis has the higher on-base percentage by far, and he also has a much higher average. The only thing Alvarez is better at than Davis is that he hits more home runs. But Davis also has a lot of power himself and is notorious for power surges in the second-half of the season. That’s without mentioning that Davis is a much better defensive option.
There just are not many positives to moving Alvarez to first base. He would be a liability defensively and isn’t an upgrade offensively. The Pirates should keep him at third base and hope he can get over his throwing problems, especially if Josh Harrison has to replace Neil Walker at second base. That is where Alvarez’s bat would be an upgrade and that’s where he is best suited to play at this time.
First base could be an option for Alvarez over the offseason when there is more time to learn the position, but moving his position now would not be a smart move by the Pirates.