Biertempfel: Pirates' Alvarez continues improvement at third base
There were a lot of great storylines during the 8-2 homestand the Pirates wrapped up Thursday.
They humbled the hated Brewers. They mashed two home runs that splashed down in the Allegheny River. There was a walkoff homer in extra innings, that freaky walkoff error, a 7-1 rout and five one-run nail-biters.
Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez notched two wins apiece. Andrew McCutchen kept torturing opposing pitchers.
Here's what stood out to me: Pedro Alvarez doing a spot-on Brooks Robinson impression in practically every game.
On Tuesday, Alvarez robbed the Cubs' Cody Ransom of a hit by diving to snag the ball, then firing a two-hopper to first base from his knees.
The next day, Alvarez made three fine plays — twice, he had to go to his left, which has always been his weakness — to help preserve a 1-0 victory.
In the homestand finale Thursday, he sprinted into foul territory, scaled the rolled-up tarp and reached into the stands to make a snow-cone catch of David DeJesus' pop-up.
Later, Alvarez wasn't eager to brag. Not even a little.
“I don't feel any more comfortable than I did last year,” Alvarez said with a shrug. “I feel pretty confident in my glove. Every day, the more you work on it, the better you feel. I wouldn't say it's a drastic difference.”
The numbers say otherwise.
Last season, 124 big leaguers fielded at least one ball at third base. Among those, Alvarez ranked 113th with a .926 fielding percentage. His 27 errors at third were the most in the majors.
This year, Alvarez has made six errors in 114 chances, (.947). Among everyday third basemen in the majors, he ranks 18th in errors and 16th in fielding percentage.
And fewer fielding flubs are only part of the story. Alvarez's throws across the diamond have been better, too. More accurate and more powerful than before.
“Pedro's always had a good arm,” first baseman Garrett Jones said. “But when he sets and throws and really gets off a good one, it's a heavy ball. It's got a lot of carry on it. It hits your glove and it's ... boom! You feel it. If you don't catch it right, it'll sting you a little bit. He's definitely got a cannon.”
Every year, there are questions about whether the Pirates eventually will be forced to move Alvarez to first base. Alvarez, who played third at Vanderbilt, insists he would resist such a change.
Management generally has been supportive, though usually with “if” or “maybe” qualifiers. Hurdle issued another one Thursday.
“Pedro hears the noise about, ‘Will you move?' '' Hurdle said. “As long as Pedro continues to show me the effort, the energy and the attitude to play third base, that's where he's going to play. Because, as he showed, he can be more than an adequate defender.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
- Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
- Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 31, 2015
- Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
- Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
- Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 30, 2015
- Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 29, 2015
- Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
- Pirates’ Liriano unaffected by poor last outing against Twins