At the high point of his ridiculous tear earlier in 2012 (May 3rd, through his first 21 games), Pedro Alvarez was hitting .257/.297/.614. That’s some prodigious power coupled with a terrible on-base percentage, but given Alvarez’s struggles last year, pretty much all Pirate fans were willing to accept that as progress. Alvarez responded with a brutal stretch after that, hitting .148/.229/.226 over his next 34 games. It was pretty clear that pitchers were pitching him more carefully (you can see a big improvement in walk rate over that span) and that Alvarez just wasn’t adjusting to it. That ugly stretch dropped Alvarez’s line for the season to .189/.254/.373.
Of course, we know what happened in the next two days. Alvarez went 5-for-8, hit four homers and a double, drew a walk, drove in nine runs, and basically single-handedly powered the Pirates to a series win over the Indians. The result is that his triple-slash line on the season is .207/.271/.451. That’s good for a wRC+ of 93, which means that through his first 57 games in 2012, his power has almost (but not quite) been so good as to make him an average hitter, despite his huge strikeout problems that have kept his batting average and on base percentage down in the “dangerously low” territory.
I’m mentioning all of this because I flat-out have no idea what to do with this information. Alvarez’s strikeout rate is an obscene 31.3% and a .271 OBP isn’t really acceptable under very many circumstances. Still, Alvarez was completely useless as a baseball player last year and he’s on pace to hit close to 30 home runs this year and we’ve seen flashes of the standout power hitter that was the #2 overall draft pick in 2008 and baseball’s eighth best prospect in 2010. He’s alternatingly frustrating and encouraging and his full-season stats bear that out to this point.
I just don’t know what to make of the guy to this point and as always, the most important part is whatever’s coming next. Can he stay hot? For how long? Can he still be productive if he’s not scorching hot? Is there ever going to be a middle ground for Pedro Alvarez? I really have no idea.