Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez named NL player of the week


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

There’s no doubt Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is locked into one of the stunning hot streaks that have defined his early major-league career.

After homering in four straight games and driving the ball all over the yard on the Pirates’ ongoing nine-game road trip, Alvarez has surpassed center fielder Andrew McCutchen for the best OPS on the team (.815 to .811). On Monday, the MLB league office acknowledged the extent of Alvarez’ surge, naming the 26-year-old the National League player of the week.

This is the third such award of Alvarez’ MLB career, which spans parts of four seasons with the Pirates. “El Toro” went 12 for 29 in six games over the past seven days, including four homers, three doubles and 10 RBIs. His current seven-game hitting streak has boosted his batting average from .212 to .237.

But Alvarez’ offensive worth will always be defined by his power, and he’s not disappointing in that regard. The former second-overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft is slugging .513 and has a team-best 19 home runs a year after driving 30 over the fence. Alvarez is second on the NL’s home-run leaderboard, two behind Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez.

The signature game of Alvarez’ week came last Thursday afternoon, as he drove in all of the Pirates’ runs in a 5-3 victory over division-rival Cincinnati. He went 3 for 4 with a solo dinger and a tiebreaking three-run double, helping Pittsburgh (46-30) keep pace in the competitive NL Central race.

The Pirates, who boast the second-best record in MLB, start a two-game series in Seattle on Tuesday night.