Stats Corner: Pedro adds contact, patience to power game
Pedro Alvarez launched 36 home runs last season, tying Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead and establishing a new single-season franchise record for a Pirates third baseman. Those bombs came at a cost, though, with Alvarez's all-or-nothing approach leading to the second-worst on-base percentage (.296) among hitters going deep at least 30 times.
Alvarez is showing off his power once again as, entering Saturday's game, he paces the Pirates in homers (five) and slugging percentage (.615). But the slugger once known for chasing pitches and racking up strikeouts is displaying an ability to control the strike zone.
In 2013, Alvarez drew walks at a league-average clip (7.9 percent) and stuck out in 30.3 percent of his plate appearances, sixth-highest among qualified batters. But Alvarez has walked just as often as he has whiffed (17.8 percent) this season, working the count and making contact like a Joey Votto clone. With a more polished approach, Alvarez has boosted his OBP to .311 despite enduring some terrible luck on balls put in play (.115 BABIP).
While early-season stats can deceive, Alvarez's strike zone overhaul looks legitimate. Changes in a player's swing and contact rates become meaningful with 50 plate appearances — a mark Alvarez is fast approaching. He's hacking at fewer pitches thrown outside of the strike zone and coming up empty less often when he does let it rip.
Year O-swing Pct. Contact pct.
2010-13 33.3 69.1
2014 26.8 72.6
MLB avg. 30.7 80.2
Alvarez's potential may hinge on whether he can sustain the gains. He managed to post an on-base plus slugging percentage that was 16 percent above average last year despite striking out 3.9 times as often as he walked.
However, no player has maintained that high of an OPS over a career spanning 6,000-plus plate appearances.
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
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 enter Plan B with Martin off market
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- Pirates notebook: Autographs to come at a cost at PirateFest
- Rossi: Pirates don’t need Alvarez at first base
- Pirates notebook: Team offered catcher Martin 4-year contract