Right now is a great time to be a Pittsburgh Pirate fan. First place, best record in the MLB, and on top of everything awesome that has happened this season, they’re sending four players to the All-Star game that takes place Tuesday night.
Jeff Locke. Jason Grilli. Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez.
Jul 4, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke (49) looks on from the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Locke completely deserved it. Locke, who has easily been one of the better pitchers in the National League this season, has the numbers that could land him the job as the NL starting pitcher. It won’t ever happen, as it will likely go to Matt Harvey or Clayton Kershaw, but Locke’s numbers are in the same boat as those two.
Grilli has been the best closer in the MLB so far this season. They haven’t announced the closer to the NL squad yet, but there isn’t much of a question that if the NL has a lead in the ninth inning, Grilli should be on the hill closing it out. Even though these past few weeks have been shaky for Grilli, he’s still been the best closer in the MLB thus far, and was absolutely deserving of his place on the NL roster.
McCutchen, who is having a sub-par year for his standards, will go to his third All-Star game. His numbers aren’t anything outstanding, and I took some heat on Twitter saying that he wasn’t completely deserving of making the All-Star team. There are more than a few outfielders in the NL who have had better seasons that Cutch, but this is where the whole fan-vote/popularity contest comes into play. He’s one of the more well-known players throughout the MLB, and is the best player on the (current) best team in the MLB. I love Cutch, and I’m glad he’s going to another All-Star game, but call me crazy all you want, I just thought he really benefited from the ridiculous fan-vote this year.
The guy I really want to talk about is Alvarez. I couldn’t be any happier for the guy, and as I said earlier, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a player going to the mid-summer classic. I’ve been an Alvarez supporter since day one, and have always stuck up for the guy, which makes this whole thing much better.
I wrote this article back in early April, and have sent my Twitter followers back to it a lot these past couple weeks. I love being right. Alvarez, in the month of April, was, to some fans logic, not even worthy of being on the 25-man roster. Now, he’s on the National League All-Star roster.
Jun 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) reacts in the dugout while watching a replay of his solo home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
He’s going to be playing at Citi Field on Tuesday, and if the MLB were smart, they would have him hitting in the Home Run Derby on Monday night. He should, without a doubt, be one of the four NL representatives, but that’s another opinion for another time.
He should be starting the game for the National League at third base, but of course that’s going to go to David Wright, considering the game is being played in New York. Though Alvarez has had a better season than Wright, the whole “hometown player” thing played a big role in deciding the starter at third base. But hey, once again, that’s another opinion for another time.
No player on the Pirates gets criticized more than Alvarez, which I think is insane, considering the season he’s been having is spectacular. Looking at him from a Pittsburgh standpoint, I frequently refer to him as the Pirates version of Mike Wallace. Wallace, the former NFL wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was treated a lot similar to Alvarez in my opinion. When he dropped a pass, missed a block, or fumbled a ball, every fan in Pittsburgh was on his case — more than they were any other player on the team. But when he caught a 50-yard touchdown, he was the man around the Burgh, and all Steeler fans loved him. Alvarez is very similar in a baseball perspective. When he strikes out, grounds into a double play, or boots a ball at third base, Pittsburgh finds a way to criticize him more than any other player on the team. When it comes to Alvarez hitting a 430-foot homer, or making a diving play at third base, fans are in love with Alvarez.
For a guy who follows what people have to say on Twitter about every single Pirate game, there’s no question to me that fans have the biggest opinions on Alvarez as opposed to any other Pirate.
Not Andrew McCutchen. Not James McDonald. Not A.J. Burnett. Not Jason Grilli. But Pedro Alvarez.
Jun 14, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) reacts after hitting a double against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
He might not be the best player on the team, but there are more tweets and articles sent out about the success/failure of Alvarez than any other player. Some fans love criticizing him. Some fans enjoy watching him play poorly. Some fans, like myself, enjoy nothing more in this world than watching Alvarez turn on a fastball and send it out of PNC Park.
So what was the point of this whole article? To explain to fans that Alvarez is a great ballplayer. As much as some fans hate giving the guy credit, he’s a bigger difference maker than anyone on the team, with the exception of McCutchen. He produces more than any player on the team, with the exception of McCutchen. In my opinion, he’s the second best player on the team, behind McCutchen. Call me an Alvarez fanboy all you want, but I was right on this one. Fans hated him earlier this season, and now that he’s an All-Star and one of the best third basemen in the league, everyone loves him.
So get on your feet tonight at PNC Park.