Pittsburgh Pirates relying on Pedro Alvarez in early going


The Pittsburgh Pirates got their first win of the season yesterday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

As has been the case more often that not in the early going, Pedro Alvarez was prominently involved, going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.  The Pirates would obviously like for that production to continue.

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But can they count on that?

On the young season, Alvarez is off to blistering pace, compiling a 5-four-14 start to go along with two HRs.  Alvarez has done this batting exclusively from the sixth-spot in the order in each of the Pirates’ first four games.  With that power production comes a free-swinging mindset, as Alvarez has struck out six times, for a 42.9% strikeout rate.

So much for my theory to try Pedro in the cleanup spot.

At this very point I will make the obligatory statement that it is VERY early in the season, but as I compared his 2015 start to his 2014 counterpart, the difference in strikeout rate was stark.  As El Toro started 2014, I took great notice that he was move selective at the plate, and it showed with a 21.1% rate through his first four games, and 26.9% for the month of April.  These numbers aren’t impressive on their own, but with Pedro going down on strikes at a 33.3% clip in 2013, this was a marked and welcomed improvement.

Returning to the question I posed earlier, the answer is an unequivocal yes, but with a caveat.  Any expectations for Pedro this year must be seen through the prism of batting sixth.  I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong, as I clearly was when pushing for Pedro to bat fourth.  While he has taken great strides historically to reduce his strikeout rate, the fact that the free-swinging mindset still resides in Pedro some degree shows that Clint Hurdle would do well to keep him in his more-comfortable six-hole.

And that should be more than good enough for the Pirates to rely on him as their most consistent pure-power threat.

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