Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pedro Alvarez On A Tear

On July 7, Pedro Alvarez was batting .194 and had an OPS of .573. His slow start was very disappointing because we've been anxiously awaiting Alvarez ever since he was the second overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft. But that disappointment has dissolved in a shower of sparks as Alvarez has gone on an amazing tear.

Since that low point, Alvarez has gone 14 for his last 35 (a .400 clip) that has included five homers. Four of those homers have come in back to back games this Tuesday and Wednesday. Alvarez has raised his average to .256 and his OPS to over .800. Yeah, he still strikes out too much and he did make his fourth error of the year on Wednesday, but this has to be exciting for Pittsburgh fans and Fans in general.

It's also easy to forget that Alvarez has only played a year and a half of professional baseball after his career at Vanderbilt. He's so new to pro baseball that he doesn't even have a nickname yet. And as such, there are certain aspects of his game that are easy to understand. He hasn't proved he can hit major league left-handed pitching. He hasn't hit in the clutch or in high leverage situations and he is a much better hitter at home than he is on the road. It's also not yet a given that he can be a long-term major league third baseman.

If you put all that to the side, consider that he has hit seven homers in July and has shown just why he was the draft selection he was. Consider also that batting in tandem with Lastings Milledge has raised both of their games. Milledge has long been synonymous with draft pick busts but whether one is sparking the other or they are sparking each other, Milledge has also come to life. In the same time span as Alvarez, Milledge is also 14 for his last 35. The difference is that Milledge hasn't struck out as much as Alvarez in that span nor has he hit for Alvarez's power. But perhaps this is just the atmosphere that Milledge has needed to quick-start his own highly touted career.

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