Has Pedro Alvarez truly improved at the plate?

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September 20, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) runs after he hits a single in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez is easily the single most polarizing Pittsburgh Pirate of the past five years.

And it’s not even close.

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We all know how he took on that dubious distinction. With four consecutive seasons of 20+ errors, Alvarez did himself no favors in the field. Thus, any scuffle that he goes through at the plate is magnified tenfold. Each strikeout fans the flames of fan unrest. With Aramis Ramirez taking time away from Alvarez at first base before the Jung Ho Kang injury, we can easily extrapolate that Clint Hurdle‘s opinion on Alvarez is closer to matching up with fan opinion than one would think.

Yet, as it stands today Alvarez leads the team in home runs (25) and is third in RBI (72). These are numbers that cannot and should not be ignored. Yes, Alvarez does make considerable contributions at the plate, and when he does the fans rejoice. One need only look to twitter during day games in which Alvarez hits a home run to observe this in practice.

The staff here at rumbunter even gets into the act:

Bad photoshop aside, ask any Pittsburgh Pirates fan what they would consider to be “improvement” for Alvarez and you’re likely to get a dizzying variety of answers. Some want him to at least replicate his watershed 36 home run 2013 season. Others point to the batting average, arbitrarily arriving at a .250 figure being a sign of “progress.” Most want to see less strikeouts while many want to see his slash line climb against left-handed pitching.

As of today, Pedro’s batting average sits at .246 while his home run total has rebounded after a 2014 to forget.

But has Pedro Alvarez truly improved year-to-year?

Let’s find out by going over what I believe are some key metrics based on what the Pirates expect from Alvarez, starting with the most important. To give us the best snapshot, we will look at year-to-year improvement from 2014 to 2015 and throw in his career number as well.

Next: At-Bats per Home Run