Pittsburgh Pirates: Ranking Neal Huntington’s First-Round Picks Part Two
By Marty Leap
Number 2 – Third Baseman/First Baseman Pedro Alvarez
The first pick Huntington ever made as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates was third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Huntington drafted Alvarez with the 2nd overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Vanderbilt.
Despite his shortcomings, Alvarez was one of the team’s most important players from 2012 – 2015. Alvarez was known for his big power, high strikeouts and poor defense that eventually moved him to first base with the Pirates. While he may have never lived up to what was expected from a player that was drafted number two overall, he still had a very good career with the Pirates.
In 742 games with the Pirates, Alvarez hit for a .236/.309/.441 slash line with a 106 wRC+, .205 ISO, 131 home runs, and an extra base hit rate of 9.8%. This came in 2,784 plate appearances in a Pirate uniform.
Those overall numbers do not do Alvarez justice, though. After a dreadful 2011 season, he turned a corner in 2012. From 2012 – 2015, Alvarez owned a 110 wRC+, .218 ISO, he crushed 111 home runs, and owned a 10.1% extra base hit rate in 573 games played. In these four seasons, he was worth a fWAR of 6.1.
While there is an argument to be made to have Alvarez 3rd and Taillon 2nd on this list, what gives Alvarez the edge is his postseason prowess. He missed the postseason in 2014 due to a foot injury, but in the 2013 and 2015 postseasons he combined to slash .261/.308/.696 with 3 home runs, a 17.4% extra base hit rate, a .435 ISO, and a 166 wRC+. Hell, Alvarez nearly single handily carried the Pirates past the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 NLDS.
Following the 2015 season, Alvarez was designated for assignment. He then signed with the Baltimore Orioles and played for the O’s from 2016 – 2018. He has not appeared in a MLB game since 2018.