Jun 23, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) is congratulated by center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) and right fielder Travis Snider (23) at home plate after he hit a 3-run home run during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Why Do Pirates Bury Pedro Alvarez in Lineup ?


Jun 23, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) is congratulated by center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) and right fielder Travis Snider (23) at home plate after he hit a 3-run home run during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez is a talented baseball player that the Pittsburgh Pirates have invested a great deal of time and money into becoming an elite talent.  So why does Alvarez get buried in the lineup consistently?  The slugger has regularly hit in the bottom half of the lineup, El Toro was even put in the eighth spot in the lineup this season.

Last night would have been a perfect opportunity to put El Toro in the two spot on the lineup card.  But instead Travis Snider got that spot.  Now why Snider gets the opportunity to hit in the honey hole is beyond me.  It absolutely baffled me.

Batting Pedro Alvarez behind Gregory Polanco and in front of Andrew McCutchen has the potential to change the game and more importantly give him something he hasn’t seen nearly enough of this season.

A fastball.

PedroAlvarezAugust copy

Nick Ashbourne did an excellent job of explaining how the Pirates opposition has approached pitching to the defending National League Home Run Champ.  It’s changed the game for Alvarez and more importantly the Pirates seem to be wasting his talents.  The fact the Pirates haven’t been able to strategically place their slugger in a position to help the club is troubling.  It seems obvious to most how to get a player going–just hit him in front of Andrew McCutchen.

Check out Ashbourne’s work here Pedro Alvarez Is Getting Nothing To Hit

Baseball is a game of constant adjustments and it appears pitchers are adjusting to the Pirates slugger. For him to be successful he’ll just have to adjust back.

While that is true, it’s also rather simple to put Alvarez in a spot in the lineup where the likelihood of the biggest slugger on the team has an opportunity to see more of the pitch he mashes.

A fastball.

Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez has 12 home runs in 2014.

Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez has 12 home runs in 2014.

____________________

One thing about El Toro is that you won’t hear him complain about the situation.  As Pedro Alvarez told Colin Dunlap yesterday in a great interview, “he doesn’t make out the lineup card.”

However, it makes me curious who really does, because what the Pirates are doing with Alvarez seems ridiculous.

Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates

  • HDF

    Have you ever watched Alvarez play? After reading this article it doesn’t seem like you have. He has no speed, rarely puts the ball in play, can’t make consistent contact, has a wretched on base percentage and has no base running ability. All qualities you want at the top of the lineup!!!!

    • rex lint

      Dude he can’t put the ball into play when all he gets fed a steady diet of shit pitches. If you bat him second or third with a real hitter behind him he is going to see way better pitches. Even when they put him in clean up they still have no one behind him. Martin, Mercer, Barmes isn’t putting the fear of god into pitchers. They aren’t going to walk him knowing Cutch is coming up behind him. But they will walk him to get to Mercer or Barmes.

    • jdk47

      HDF…dead on. This guy is going nowhere. Way overrated and will never hit above .240. I don’t buy that Alvarez gets pitched around. I’ve seen teams intentionally walk a LOT of players, not just Cutch, to pitch to him. 2/3 of his HRs are solo and he led the league in RLISP last year.

      Looks like Hurdle has finally wised up. Harrison is starting at 3rd tonight, on the 4th of July, with a right-handed pitcher for the Phillies. If that’s not a signal, I don’t know what is.

  • Andrew Goemaat

    The reasoning for hitting him so low in the lineup is actually pretty straightforward–he sucks out of the #4 spot. No seriously, this is a little known fact that I’ve brought up in the past in discussions about where to hit him. The obvious answer in many fans’ minds is to hit him at #4 given his power, but the numbers are just not there. Like it or not, the numbers suggest he is best suited to bat 6th, though I will be the first to admit I’d love it if he could thrive earlier in the order–Ike Davis at #4 is far from ideal. Take a look at his split stats over a three year span (ESPN uses 2011 – 2013 so that’s what I’m going off for this argument).

    In 266 ABs hitting 4th, Pedro has a slash line of .192/.261/.380 for a pitiful .641 OPS to go along with 11 HRs, 37 RBIs and 94 strikeouts. This year, he has 159 ABs in the cleanup spot with a .209/.306/.368 line. Certainly not good numbers even with 8 home runs.

    Batting 5th, he has nearly the same number of ABs with 268 and a line of .254/.308/.429 for an OPS of .737. Better, but not fantastic by any means. He also has 88 strikeouts, only 6 less than when hitting fourth and nearly identical production numbers with 12 HRs and 37 RBIs… In 2014 he only has 9 ABs there so I won’t even bother with the numbers.

    Batting 6th: 581 ABs, 35 HRs, and 103 RBIs with a line of .258/.326/.489 for an OPS of .815 and 194 strikeouts. This year he’s slashing .259/.323/.482 for an .805 OPS with 4 home runs in 85 ABs. Small sample size again, but pretty much in line with the 3 year span from 2011 – 2013.

    For fun we can also look at his numbers batting 7th, though I think I speak for everyone when I say I don’t want to see him there going forward: 181 ABs, 11 HRs, 24 RBIs, 61 strikeouts, and a line of .155/.261/.359 for .620 OPS. Worth noting is that in 25 ABs this year he’s hitting .360/.467/.520. Good numbers but its a small sample size and in general 7th is just too low for a power hitter like him.

    Conclusion? For some reason, Pedro just does better hitting 6th. Sure the average is only marginally better than when he hits 5th, but the power numbers are greater for whatever reason that might be. I say they keep him at 6 as it seems to be a kind of comfort zone for him. Alvarez strikes me as the kind of player who mentally needs to be in a comfortable spot so if batting 6th allows him the peace of mind to produce at an acceptable rate then I think that’s where he should stay for now.