Pittsburgh Pirates: A look at the 2015 team’s offensive ZiPS projections

2 of 5

Aug 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez slated for 25 long-balls

One of the biggest question marks for the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates is their young, albeit talented slugger, Pedro Alvarez, who will man first base for the club this season for the first time.

The defensive shift was made to open up a spot at the hot corner for the talented Josh Harrison, who put together a very impressive 2014 campaign for manager Clint Hurdle. Not only does it give the Bucs’ skipper a better defense on a daily basis, but it may just allow Alvarez to focus more on getting things back on track at the dish.

After a breakout 2013 campaign in which he broke out with 36 home runs and 100 runs batted in, Alvarez stumbled a bit last year, hitting just 18 homers and driving in 56 runs while batting .231/.312/.405 – the most noticeable drop coming in his slugging percentage.

This year, Szymborski has Alvarez slated for a happy medium between his disappointing 2014 campaign and his All-Star 2013 season. The former second-overall pick is slated for 25 home runs to go along with 76 runs batted in, with a .231/.304/.439 triple-slash.

Simply put, Alvarez will never be a contact hitter. But if he can bring a little more power to the lineup on a regular basis, he’ll fill the role Hurdle has for him just fine.