Pedro Alvarez: It’s time for Pirates fans to back off El Toro


One thing I always find comical is that fans always find whipping boys when their team struggles.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one in Ben Roethlisberger. Every time something goes wrong, fans find a reason to blame Big Ben, even when it is unwarranted.

The same goes for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as Marc-Andre Fleury has seen his share of unfair criticism over the years.

April 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) reacts in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. The Chicago Cubs won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the fans whipping boy has become Pedro Alvarez and it’s about time that Pirates fans get off his back.

Has El Toro come out of the gates slow? Most definitely.

Can he be very frustrating to watch at times? Without a doubt.

But Alvarez is the least of the Pirates problems right now.

Pedro will hit.  He’s just off to a brutally slow start, but slow starts are part of baseball. There’s no need to panic and want him out of the lineup. There’s also no need to point the finger at Alvarez for the Bucs slow start to the season.

Through eight games, the Bucs are hitting a woeful .152 on the season and yes Alvarez has contributed to that, but there are other problems as well.

Neil Walker is hitting a whopping .103 and has left a small village on the base paths, but Pirates fans won’t point the finger his way. It’s all Pedro’s fault.

Clint Barmes, Russell Martin, Jose Tabata, Michael McKenry, Gaby Sanchez, Josh Harrison and John McDonald have combined to go 5-for-73 (.068) this season, but according to most Pirates fans, they aren’t the problem, Pedro is.

If you take out the starts to the season from Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, the rest of the Pirates lineup has combined to go 20-for-173 (.115) and that number includes an 11-hit attack Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Clearly Alvarez isn’t the problem; he’s just part of it.

Going 2-for-29 with 13 strikeouts to start the season doesn’t endear Alvarez to Pirates fans, but it’s only eight games and things will turn around.

Next to McCutchen, Alvarez is the only guy on the Bucs roster capable of carrying the offense.

He will get hot and by the end of the season, should improve off the 30 homer, 85 RBI season he put up a year ago. Keep in mind that we are talking about a guy that has one full year of major league baseball. Alvarez is still young and still learning. Not to mention that the Bucs have faced some tough pitching early on.

Judging by his career numbers, Pedro is a notorious slow starter, as his career monthly OPS numbers indicate: .553 OPS in March/April. .657 in May, .745 in June, .798 in July.

As the weather heats up, so will Alvarez. He’s just a young guy who is pressing right now.

Having said that, he’s way too talented to not have in the lineup every day.

Eight games means nothing. It’s a long season and Pirates fans should relax and get off Pedro’s back.

Just looking around the league you find plenty of guys off to slow starts.

Jason Heyward is hitting .083
BJ Upton .103
Manny Machado .200
Mike Napoli .164
Anthony Rizzo .165
Paul Konerko .136
Asdrubral Cabrera .136
Todd Helton .095
Victor Martinez .143
Josh Hamilton .138
Matt Kemp .120
Giancarlo Stanton .134
Ike Davis .148
Ichiro .185
Josh Reddick .125
Ryan Howard .161
Cameron Maybin .100
Brandon Belt .091
Jose Bautista .188
Adam LaRoche .118

You won’t find any of those teams in a panic, nor will you find any of their fans pushing for their stars to be out of the lineup.

Slow starts are part of baseball. Even perennial All-Star’s and MVP candidates aren’t immune to them.

Alvarez will hit. You just have to be patient with him. Not everything is his fault and it’s time to get off his back.

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