Pedro Alvarez: Hit or Miss

After a terrible 2011 season in which he hit just .191 in 74 games, Pedro Alvarez has rebounded nicely this year. He’s finally showing the power numbers that were expected of him ever since he came up to the majors. Although he doesn’t hit for much average (which isn’t highly expected from a power hitter), Alvarez has shown some encouraging signs at the plate. However, it’s literally been hit or miss for Pedro since the All-Star break.

The Pirates have played six games since the break; three in Milwaukee and three in Colorado. Alvarez has hit in the sixth spot of the lineup for all six contests. Here’s how he has fared in each:

– Friday vs. MIL (L, 10-7)
1 for 4, HR, K

– Saturday vs. MIL (W, 6-4)
0 for 4, 3 K

– Sunday vs. MIL (L, 4-1)
0 for 3, 3 K

– Monday vs. COL (L, 5-4)
1 for 3, HR

– Tuesday vs. COL (W, 6-2)
0 for 5, 3 K

– Wednesday vs. COL (W, 9-6)
2 for 4, HR, 2 K

Totals: 4 for 24 (.167 avg), 3 HR, 5 RBI, 12 K

Despite a .167 batting average, Pedro has a .542 slugging percentage in these six games; three of his four hits have been home runs. Also, his only non-HR (a single on Wednesday) was originally ruled an error. The ball had some wicked spin on it, and Rockies’ shortstop Josh Rutledge couldn’t make a play on it.

Alvarez now has 19 HR and 55 RBI in 82 games. To put his homers in perspective, approximately 30% of his hits have gone over the fence (19 of 63). In his rookie season of 2010, he hit 16 HR vs. 89 hits, so about 18% went to souvenir city. Last season, he had approximately 9% (4 of 45) of his hits leave the yard. Alvarez has 278 AB this season, so he goes deep about once every 15 at-bats.

El Toro has managed to strike out in half of his at-bats since the All-Star break, and he now has 99 strikeouts on the season. His 99 K’s rank eighth-highest in MLB, and fifth-highest in the National League. Adam Dunn leads the way with 140 strikeouts, while Rickie Weeks is in second with 118.

Pedro’s current six-game streak is very Adam Dunn-esque: low average, plenty of homers, and tons of strikeouts. The 6’6″, 285 lb. Dunn is enjoying an incredible season on the south side of Chicago. His 28 HR and 65 RBI landed him in Kansas City last week for the Midsummer Classic. Dunn is hitting just .212 and has 66 hits on the season, which means about 42% of his hits are home runs. It seems like El Toro will remain low-average/high-slugging percentage over the course of his career, but not as drastic as Dunn.

Pedro has made some solid offensive adjustments and it’s really paying off. He’s on pace for 30+ homers and 100+ runs batted in. Hopefully he’ll add some singles and doubles this homestand on top of a few long balls. Many people believed at the start of the season that Alvarez would be the key to this team’s success. While he’s had his ups and downs, he’s certainly has come through with clutch HR and RBI. Pedro has ridiculous strength and the ability drive baseballs over the fence. If he can continue to provide power in the middle of the lineup for the rest of the season, the Pirates will have plenty of opportunities to score runs and win games.

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