Found June 29, 2013 on
Pedro Alvarez has been heating up at the plate in recent weeks and has entered the discussion for a spot on the National League All-Star team thanks in large part to the work he has done with his bat.
Pedro Alvarez is “doing what a professional third baseman needs to do when he’s on defense,” according to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Photo Credit: David Hague
Pirates fans have come to know this side of Alvarez during his career in Pittsburgh. Until this season the perception about his game was that he could hit the ball a ton but his defense left a lot to be desired.
That has not necessarily been the case so far in 2013. There have been a handful of great plays to go with the plays he is making that you expect a professional third baseman to make and that has come with the part of the equation we don’t see — the work put in during the offseason and in practice situations to improve.
“Pedro has an intense desire to be a third baseman. He works very hard, everyday, early,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Pittsburgh defeated San Francisco on June 11. “He’s never taken his bat to the field. He wants to play third and he works extremely hard at it and you’re seeing the work play out and not just on plays but on big plays. He made a play on (Alfonso) Soriano the other night on a backhand stop with runners at first and second with a strong throw across the infield. He’s doing it. He’s doing what a professional third baseman needs to do when he’s on defense.”
Taking a look at the numbers you can see some improvement in Alvarez’s defense over the course of his career.
In 2010 he made his Major League debut and played in 94 games (totaling 814.2 innings) and was worth -15 runs saved above average (per 1,200 innings – abbreviated as Rdrs/yr, from Baseball-Reference), with a -5.6 UZR/150. In 2011 Alvarez appeared in just 66 games (549 innings) and was worth -24 Rdrs/yr with a -3.2 UZR/150. In 2012 he had more playing time than at any point prior to that in his career (145 games, 1,273 innings) with a -5 Rdrs/yr, and a -9.1 UZR/150.
So far in 2013 Alvarez has played in 68 games (595.2 innings) prior to Friday’s game against Milwaukee. In that time he has 0 Rdrs/yr and a 4.6 UZR/150.
“Those are things he expects himself to be able to do and we’re seeing more and more of it,” Hurdle said. “It speaks to his perseverance and his want to. No man wants to be the weakest link in the lineup offensively nor do they want to be the weakest link when they’re in the field carrying the leather around.”
While a Gold Glove is still probably out of the question (he makes way too many errors), there is no denying that Alvarez has put in work with his glove that has saved runs and helped the Pirates win games during the club’s current run to being tied for the best record in Major League Baseball.
“What’s nice about Pedro is not only that he hits home runs, but that he’s really talkative on the field,” Gerrit Cole told our James Santelli. “When he had those fast lefties or righties like (Yasiel) Puig, we talk about… how much space he’s gonna give me down the line. Then he definitely relays that to the rest of the infield. We’re kind of all on the same page about how we’re gonna attack this guy.”
When I took notice of all the great plays Alvarez had been making I wanted to dive a little deeper into the subject and see what prompted the improvement we can all see and also if the statistics back that up. The conclusion I came to after combining what I’ve seen with both the statistics and accounts from teammates and coaches is this: Pedro Alvarez is always going to be known for his bat, and rightfully so. What he contributes on defense will always take a back seat to his offensive production but it should not be unappreciated. He is a long way from being an elite defensive third baseman but he certainly contributes and is not a liability in the field.
This season he appears to be making more difficult plays and certainly has made more memorable plays but when you look at the statistics he projects to be slightly below average among other players at his position. That’s OK though. The Pirates do not need Alvarez to be the best defensive third baseman in the National League to win. They need him to be a hammer in the middle of the lineup and not cost the team any games with his work in the field and he has been doing exactly that.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
I am 21-year-old college student, and I was six months old the last time the Pirates had a winning season. So technically I was alive last time the Pirates had a winning season, but for argument’s sake I have never seen a winning season. I have witnessed the likes of Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Jason Bay, Kris Benson, Aramis Ramirez, and plenty of others come and go while showing...
EAT SOME DIRT
Your browser does not support iframes. The Pittsburgh Pirates mascot fell over a railing and landed headfirst onto the field during the ninth inning Sunday's game at PNC Park. The Pirate Parrot was sitting in the front row of the stands in left field at ground level and leaned over the railing to try to snag a foul grounder by Pirates batter Josh Harrison when he suffered...
Episode 11 of The Pirates Prospects Podcast can be downloaded or streamed below. This episode includes analysis from Tom Bragg (@TomBraggSports), James Santelli (@JamesSantelli) and myself (@timwilliamsP2) on the Pirates. Highlights of the show include:
**The show has new intro music! It’s ‘Let’s Get it Started’ by Oh No Not Stereo. Courtesy of BeatPick.com
**We talk about...
TOP OF THE SYSTEM
A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today. Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the mid-season rankings, and links on each name go to their Pirates...
Russell Martin hits game-winning RBI single in the 14th inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates break out the brooms and sweep the Milwaukee Brewers in a 2-1 victory on Sunday.
With their victory over the Brewers, the Pirates move to 51-30 on the season and take a 2 game lead over the NL Central in the hunt for October.
Despite the Pirates success, some people are still hesitant...
The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed their 30th round pick from this year’s amateur draft, left-handed pitcher Will Kendall out of Auburn. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Kendall was a junior this season, coming off Tommy John Surgery, which cut short an impressive sophomore season. He was 4-0, 1.88 in six starts and three relief appearances when the injury occurred last year...
Luis Heredia will get his second start of the season tonight, trying to build off the five shutout innings he threw in his debut. Bradenton was rained out last night. They will make it up today as part of a doubleheader. Altoona will also play a doubleheader today. Jamestown had their game suspended in the third inning. They will finish the game the next time they meet up against...
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed top draft pick Austin Meadows on Friday.
The 18-year-old outfielder from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., was the ninth overall pick. He gets a signing bonus of $3,029,600, which is the slot value assigned to the pick.
''It's overwhelming,'' Meadows said. ''I've been playing baseball since I was a 3 years old...
Nearly half way through the Major League Baseball season, the Pittsburg Pirates 49-30 record is the best in the league.
Take that in for a second. The Pittsburg Pirates, who haven’t been relevant for the past two decades, have the best record in baseball right now.
The Pirates started off last season strong as well, but ended the season losing 35 of their last 15 games and ended...
Vin Mazzaro threw five perfect innings in relief. (Photo by: David Hague)
What a way to close out the Pirates’ most successful first half in four decades.
The Pirates’ 2-1 win and home sweep of Milwaukee (32-48) featured 14 innings, five Brewers infielders, two chances for a walkoff walk and only one player left on the bench for either team.
Helped by a two-hour rain delay, the...
As the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to roll, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in another slide.
Alone atop the NL Central, the Pirates look to extend their longest winning streak in nine seasons to eight games while trying to hand the Brewers a fourth consecutive defeat Saturday night.
Pittsburgh (49-30) won six straight to conclude a 7-2 trip, then used a seven-run second...
The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing so well that they have to feel they can earn a rare win over Kyle Lohse.
Lohse is 9-2 in his career against the Pirates, who will try for their ninth straight victory Sunday and a three-game home sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pittsburgh (50-30) owns baseball's best record thanks to its longest win streak since a 10-game run June 26-July...
Brewers (32-46) at Pirates (49-30)
7:15 PM–PNC Park, Pittsburgh
The first place Pittsburgh Pirates go for eight in a row tonight against the last place Milwaukee Brewers. PNC Park should be sold out for the fifth straight game (it’s Fireworks Night, after all) and it should be a great atmosphere on the North Shore.
Tonight’s game is on FOX, but only...
Pinch-hitter Russell Martin singled home the winning run in the 14th inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates earned their ninth straight victory, defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Sunday.
The Pirates extended their longest winning streak since 2004, when they took 10 in a row. Pittsburgh reached the midpoint of its season with the best record in the majors at 51-30.
Gaby Sanchez led...
The West Virginia Power took the four series in Lakewood today, with a comeback win, giving them three wins against the BlueClaws in this set and they have now beat them in 13 of 16 meetings this year. Down 4-2 going into the ninth inning, the Power drew three straight walks to start the frame. After a sacrifice fly made it 4-3, Ashley Ponce hit what looked to be a game-ending double...