(stats as of 5/8)
Despite still maintaining a relatively low battting average (.235), Pedro Alvarez has shown improvements this season after starting slow. His power shot up the past few weeks and it seems that his average has followed as well. Alvarez hit .203 in April (12 for 59, 5 HR), but has started May with an average of .318 (7 for 22, 2 HR). In just one-third of the games he played last season, Pedro already has 3 more homers and only four less RBI. El Toro has also gained plenty of confidence. He’s made some big improvements with his swing and the ball sounds solid off his bat. Let’s look at how his plate discipline has affected his improvements at the plate.
Terms to know:
O-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone.
Z-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone.
Swing%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter swings at.
O-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with outside the strike zone when swinging the bat.
Z-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat.
Contact%: The overall percentage of a batter makes contact with when swinging the bat.
Zone%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter sees inside the strike zone.
F-Strike% – The percentage of first pitch strikes.
SwStr%: The percentage of total pitches a batter swings and misses on.
As you can see, Pedro has still swung at about the same percent of pitches outside of the strike zone. However, he’s swung at over 10% more of the pitches in the zone that he has seen. This shows that he is attacking pitches he can hit, as oppose to making the pitcher work and taking pitches. The past two years, Alvarez has swung at almost an identical amount of pitches (46.4 and 46.8), so he’s swinging at about one out of every two pitches and right at the league average. He has also boosted his Z-Contact%, which shows that he’s making contact with more pitches that are in the zone. This comes with the improved swing he has shown and taking better cuts.
One thing that has come up is that pitchers have started being more selective with Pedro, especially since he’s put on a power display. The league average for pitches seen inside the strike zone (Zone%) is about 45%. Alvarez saw that last season at 43.7%. However, he’s seen just 35.1% of pitches inside the zone so far this season. He’s also seeing less first pitch strikes, once again going from league average to dipping below it. Alvarez is still swinging and missing at plenty of pitches. He’s at 12.3% while league average is around 8.5%. Still, that is too be expected from a power hitter who is swinging for the fences.
While Pedro has produced more solid at-bats the past few weeks, he still seems to be a streaky hitter. That said, it’s important that Pirate fans don’t get too frustrated if he begins to slump again. His plate discipline and approach has definitely improved, as he is swinging at more pitches in the zone and making contact with them. It’s also promising that pitchers are throwing around him a little bit and view him as a threat in the lineup. Hopefully Pedro can keep his pace and continually produce throughout the summer.