Jun 16, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez becoming a star before our eyes

Many Pittsburgh Pirates fans still find a reason to point the finger at third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

For one reason or another, they find it difficult to give credit when credit is due and often find a reason to make Alvarez a scapegoat whenever things go wrong.

However there’s one thing that can’t be taken away from Alvarez and that’s the fact that he is becoming a future big time star right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Jun 16, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) watches his three run home run clear the fence against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

He’s coming off of a very productive 2012 campaign in which he hit 30 homers and drove in 85 runs, but “El Toro” has been even better than that so far in 2013.

Sure the batting average may not be where fans may like it and he got off to yet another slow start, but it must be realized what type of player he is. In fact he is the type of player who can carry an offense, something he has been doing a lot of as of late.

To illustrate, let’s simply look at the numbers.

In 2012, his first full season in the majors, something people tend to forget, Alvarez produced a slash line of .244/.317/.467 with an OPS of .784 from May 1 to June 16. Those aren’t bad numbers at all, especially considering the fact that Alvarez went on to have a very good season.

Now let’s look at the same time frame this season where he has produced a slash line of .239/.313/.564 with an OPS of .877.

That’s a very good sign that Alvarez is going to continue to put up big numbers.

Then there’s the fact that Alvarez has led all National League players in homers since June of 2012 with 37.

However while the big fly is always going to be a big part of his game, Alvarez is becoming much more than just a home run hitter. While he will never be confused with a Tony Gwynn or Rod Carew in terms of handling the bat, Alvarez has gotten more than his share of big hits this season that haven’t left the yard.

His 15 homers have him tied for fifth in the NL and his 41 RBI are the 11th most in the league. Right now, Alvarez should be a serious candidate to earn his first All-Star selection.

Sure people will point to the batting average and the strikeouts, but he has hit lose to .240 since May 1 and you can live with the K’s if he is producing at the rate he has been.

It’s often said in the Pirates clubhouse that no one works harder than Alvarez and that hard work has paid off, not only at the plate where he has become a more polished hitter since his rookie campaign, but has also transformed himself into a very good third baseman with the glove.

That alone was something that no one would have ever thought possible watching him during his first couple of seasons.

The simple facts are that Alvarez isn’t just becoming one of the better players to wear a Pirates uniform, but one of the better players in the league.

So when Pirates fans look for a whipping boy in the future, they need to look at someone other than Alvarez.

That’s because he’s becoming a legitimate star.

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  • fuzznarf

    Wow.. this article is a bunch of Yinzer rubbish. Wishful thinking for fans of a team that has been pathetic for so long, they will grasp at anything to talk up. I love the Pirates, and have been a fan my whole life, but this blind sheep mentality that many Pirates fans have is similar to battered wife syndrome.

    here are the facts.

    Pedro leads the league in 3rd basemen errors. 27 in 2012, and 12 this season so far. He is on pace to have an even worse field pct than his league worst last year.

    in 1468 plate appearances, he has struck out 457 times. for an average strike out every 3.21 pa. That is worse than Ricky Weeks(4.29) and Adam Dunn (3.53). Two players that the Pirates announces love to trash.

    Alvarez, with runners on base, bats .245, and has struck out 190 times in 640 plate appearance. Sure, his 30 home runs in those same plate appearances have accounted for a few wins, but his failure to advance the runner by just making contact have accounted for more losses.

    Every at bat, Pedro is swinging for the fences. He has no discipline at the plate. Even last night, he was up to bat and swung at 3 pitches in a row what would have been 3 balls, but instead struck out. The last swing was so hard his helmet spun and nearly came off his head. This is a guy who is solely concerned about hitting home runs, not hitting the ball, being a team player, and advancing the runner.

    In tied games, or behind 1 run, Pedro has 1078 plate appearances. 239 strike outs and only 32 home runs, and an abysmal .296 OBP. For every game he ties up or gets the Pirates the lead, he has 7.5 games where he strikes out. That is strike out, not ground out. He doesn’t even advance the runners or give the defense a chance to make an error. He just stands up there and whiffs an easy out for the opponent.

    Pedro, CAN be good. He has natural power, and if he would concentrate on just making contact he’d probably hit nearly as many home runs, with a lot more hits and runs scored, and RBIs by not stranding men on base. But he won’t because fans and managers alike are enamored with home runs. No matter how bad he is at the plate they will forget all the blunders fielding and potential runs not scored because occasionally he hits a ball into the river. But fans should note that you don’t get awarded extra points for hitting a really long home run.

    There was a time you would be sent to the minors for batting less than .250 or cut from the team, now Pirates fans just talk up a horrible hitter instead of actually analyzing player performance and making improvements in the player, or replacing them.