Jul 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (left) hugs first baseman Pedro Alvarez (right) after Alvarez hit a game winning RBI single against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pedro Alvarez had a year to forget in 2014. Starting off a new year at a still-new position brought a breath of fresh air around the slugger. Fans wondered aloud how many #ElToroBombs Pedro could hit having been freed of the mental shackles of third base. Fans and writers alike wondered if Alvarez could cut down on the free swings and perhaps approach a .250 batting average, all while getting back to the 36-HR form he showed in 2013.
As the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad.
For 2015, Pedro is hitting a respectable .242. He has cut his strikeout rate down to 25.7%. He has continued to earn free passes, at a 10.7% clip (good enough to lead the Pirates).
But Pedro also did not hit a multi-run HR until July 5th. It’s true – take a look at Alvarez’s 2015 home run log:
|105||1||1||2015-04-09||PIT||@||CIN||Anthony DeSclafani||ahead 1-0||1|
|106||2||1||2015-04-10||PIT||@||MIL||Mike Fiers||ahead 3-0||1|
|107||3||1||2015-04-13||PIT||DET||Anibal Sanchez||ahead 2-1||1|
|108||4||1||2015-04-19||PIT||MIL||Matt Garza||tied 2-2||1|
|109||5||1||2015-05-03||PIT||@||STL||Sam Tuivailala||tied 1-1||1|
|110||6||1||2015-05-15||PIT||@||CHC||Kyle Hendricks||behind 0-3||1|
|111||7||1||2015-05-19||PIT||MIN||Ricky Nolasco||behind 1-8||1|
|112||8||1||2015-05-23||PIT||NYM||Matt Harvey||ahead 2-0||1|
|113||9||1||2015-05-25||PIT||MIA||David Phelps||ahead 3-2||1|
|114||10||1||2015-06-10||PIT||MIL||Kyle Lohse||ahead 1-0||1|
|115||11||1||2015-07-01||PIT||@||DET||Joba Chamberlain||ahead 8-2||1|
|116||12||1||2015-07-05||PIT||CLE||Danny Salazar||behind 0-3||2|
It’s extremely curious, and believe me, it is not all Alvarez’s fault. With runners on base, Alvarez actually is performing quite well. The chart below shows Pedro’s performance with runners in scoring position (RISP), with men on base, or with the bases empty.
Perhaps we can assume that this is more a reflection on how pitchers approach The Big Bull rather than on Pedro’s approach. While the home run totals overall are down from his 2013 pace, some fans may be willing to sacrifice 6-8 cannonballs for a more disciplined Alvarez. Especially if he can keep doing things like this:
We move on in our statistical storytelling with everyone’s favorite story of the year.
Next: Masterful mound performances