Alvarez going deep, making outs at historic clip
Pedro Alvarez has unlocked his game-changing power over the past two years, becoming the first Pirate to hit 30 home runs in back-to-back seasons since Jason Bay (2005-06) and the first third baseman in franchise history to accomplish the feat.
When it comes to working the count and avoiding outs, however, the 26-year-old has regressed.
Alvarez is drawing fewer walks this season (8.1 percent of his plate appearances entering Saturday's game) than in 2012 (9.7 percent) while still punching out at one of the highest rates in the game (30.9 percent, up slightly from 30.7 percent last season). As a result, his on-base percentage has nosedived from .317 in 2012 to just .294 in 2013, 10th-worst among qualified major league hitters.
While Alvarez has gone deep 34 times, trailing only Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt among National League batters, he's hitting for power in an all-or-nothing, Dave Kingman-esque style. He has the sixth-lowest on-base percentage (OBP) ever among NL players hitting at least 30 home runs in a season.
Selling out for power
Batter Year HR OBP
Tony Batista 2004 32 .272
Dave Kingman 1975 36 .284
Dave Kingman 1982 37 .285
Dave Kingman 1976 37 .286
Ernie Banks 1968 32 .287
Pedro Alvarez 2013 34 .294
Chris Young 2007 32 .295
Lee May 1970 34 .297
Jeromy Burnitz 2003 31 .299
Mike Jacobs 2008 32 .299
The main reason for Alvarez's low OBP this season is that he's taking a cut at more would-be balls and coming up empty more often.
His swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone (O-Swing percentage) has climbed from already-high levels in 2012, and his contact rate on chase pitches (O-Contact percentage) bests just Houston's Chris Carter (44.6 percent) and Atlanta's Dan Uggla (46.1 percent) among qualified MLB hitters.
Chasing and missing
Year O-Swing O-Contact Pct. Pct.
2012 34.0 55.6
2013 35.2 48.2
MLB Avg. 30.9 66.7