Pedro Alvarez had 11 total bases last night. Just how many total bases is 11 total bases? Pedro Alvarez entered last night with 116 games and 448 plate appearances under his belt. He was hitting .240/.321/.462. After last night, Alvarez’s season line bumped up to .247/.327/.484. That’s an OPS jump from .783 to .811 after 116 games.
The .800 OPS point is an arbitrary distinction, but it’s interesting to me to that a look at Alvarez’s gamelogs shows that his OPS hasn’t been over .800 since May 9th. In fact, Alvarez has taken some flack for not tearing the cover off of the ball in August (not pointing fingers because I’ve done it a couple of times), when really, he was having a pretty solid month before last night’s explosion. Despite the still-high strikeout total (31 in 89 PAs), he hit .257/.382/.378 in August’s first 21 games. That’s on the strength of 15 walks in that span and while it’s fair to note that he only had five extra base hits (three doubles, two homers), being able to take a walk is a huge thing for a power hitter. Pedro’s power outage has been obvious because it’s coincided McCutchen’s slump and with the team losing a bunch of games, but what he’s done in August is much, much better than the Pedro Alvarez slumps that we’ve seen in the past.
Of course, Alvarez’s biggest utility to the Pirates will always be his power. We saw it last night and we’ve seen it a few other times this year (Cleveland jumps right to mind); when he catches fire there’s no pitch that he can’t hit out of the ballpark. I don’t know exactly where the “El Toro” nickname came from, but man, you can see it on nights like last night. Once he gets a head of steam going there’s just no stopping him in the batter’s box. Still, I’ve been saying all year that it’s almost as important for him to find a way to be better when he’s not on fire as it is for him to find a way to be on fire more often. He’s still got a ways to go (his strikeout rate for 2012 is still an obscene 32%), but there are plenty of places to find progress for Pedro inside of this 2012 season.