While Andrew McCutchen has long been seen as the face of the organization, it’s Pedro Alvarez that has been the hope. Few players have the pure power the 3rd baseman out of Vanderbilt has, and tons of pressure were heaped on to Alvarez since being drafted second overall. At just 21, having the weight of carrying a team with 2 decades worth of misery would be a daunting task, even one with as broad of shoulders as El Toro.
Pedro has always been the main prospect since his debut. Terrific in 2010, very disappointing in 2011, and solid in 2012, the ceiling/floor for Alvarez is still up in the air. When hot, he can be the most feared player in the league. With his highly improved defense, if he could bring his BA over .250 he would be an instant All Star and one of the best third basemen in the NL. But when cold, he just looks simply lost, and this can be rather… frustrating.
Alvarez’s streaks can be confusing. When he’s comfortable, he’s a top-10 power hitter. When he’s not, well, it can be ugly. Most might attribute his recent rise in batting average and home runs as just a hot streak… but could it be more. Like I said, Pedro has long been the main “prospect”; present and future success lay in his bat, but things have changed. The Pirates top prospect, Gerrit Cole, has now made his way to Pittsburgh and he hasn’t disappointed. Cole is now seen as the guy that fans can look to, to carry the team over the hump. The pressure isn’t all on El Toro anymore. Cole made his debut on June 11th. Since that time, Alvarez has gone 14-40 (.350), with 4 homers, and 15 RBI. FUN FACT: Pedro has gone yard in each of Cole’s three starts.
Since being called up, Pedro has been the Pirates’ most scrutinized player in recent memory, and possibly ever. Pirates’ fans either love him or are demanding he be sent down. The truth is, as El Toro goes, so go the Bucs. The Pirates have Marte and Cutch at the top and will get help from some other players throughout the line up, but no one can impact the game like Alvarez can. In one swing, he can make or break a game. I’m not saying Alvarez is going to keep up the ridiculous production, but it could be more than just a short stint of extreme hot hitting. In most of Alvarez’s hot streaks, he’s hit everything in sight. In his current one, he has multiple hits in only 3 games; he has just been the consistent batter we desperately need. Being comfortable – and not being the center of the fans’ attention – might just be the ticket for Alvarez to finally truly shine. Here’s hoping!