A lot has been said about Pedro Alvarez this spring. His performance has been one of our main focus points, and we seem to all be fully back on the Pedro bandwagon. Most of us believe that Pedro should be the clean-up hitter in Clint Hurdle’s every day lineup (at least against right handed pitching), and that’s not just fluff, we even tried to justify it!
While I’m not typically the most optimistic Pirate fan, I too am expecting Pedro to impress this season. Another thing you might know about me already is that I hate spring training. While I believe, and can prove, that spring training team records don’t mean a thing, there certainly is something to be said for individual performance in exhibition games. We’ve all been keeping a close eye on how Pedro looks at the plate in addition to his raw statistics, and nobody has seen anything to be worried about.
That made me try to recall how Pedro has performed in previous spring trainings, and while I don’t always have the best memory; my brain didn’t send many happy images to the surface. The Internet’s never wrong, so I checked the stats. Here are Pedro’s spring training statistics for the last five years.
As always, take all of these statistics with a grain of salt. It’s a small sample size, it’s often against noncompetitive pitching, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Not only are Pedro’s home runs way up, he is also striking out less and hitting for a much higher average.
However, if we take it without the salt, it’s something to get excited about. Not only are Pedro’s home runs way up (he’s hitting one home run every 8.8 at-bats this spring, which in a 500 AB season would equate to 57 home runs), he is also striking out less and hitting for a much higher average. The strikeouts are probably the most encouraging thing to see, and it’s not a mirage, his K-rate improved by close to 5% from 2013 to 2014.
I can’t put a finger on what might be causing it, although a lot of people will certainly be quick to give the credit to his positional move across the diamond. I’m not so sure about that myself, but whatever it is, I like it.
It sure will be fun to see Pedro at the plate and in the middle of the lineup this year for the Pirates if he can maintain his spot there. He’s as likely as anyone in the league to reach the 40 home run plateau, and if he can stay on the field for 500 at-bats, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that happen.