May 31, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; First base on the field with the Texas Rangers logo during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into his first full season at first base, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez now joins a new list of competitors at his position – many of whom, including Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto and Matt Adams, play in the National League Central.
The power of Alvarez is well-documented at this point. Two years ago, the slugger eclipsed the 100-RBI plateau while also hitting 36 long-balls as Pittsburgh returned to postseason play for the first time in years. However, last season, he took a step backward – as his power numbers waned (18 home runs in just 122 games) – while continuing to struggle to make contact (.231/.312/.405).
Even in his All-Star campaign of 2013, strikeouts and contact, in general, was a major issue for Alvarez, who struck out a league-worst 186 times that season. Last year, he struck out just over 25 percent of the time – an improved mark from the year prior when he whiffed in an alarming 31 percent of plate appearances.
So with this potential – and downside – in mind, where does he rank when put up against the other first basemen in the National League Central?