Pittsburgh Pirates: Pedro Alvarez Surprising Many at First Base


Mar 12, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez waits for the pitch during a spring training baseball game at McKechnie Field. The Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the start of the 2015 season, I was often critical of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez.

I was disappointed in Alvarez for not being present at Pirate City for optional workouts where he would have had some one-on-one time with Kevin Young to become acclimated to the first base position.  I thought Pedro would be too preoccupied with his discomfort surrounding his transition from third base to first base that his offensive production would suffer.

With the 2015 Spring Training in the rear view mirror, along with 13 games of this young season, I feel quite confident in admitting that I was wrong on both fronts.

Alvarez appeared in sixteen games as a first baseman in Spring Training, committing a single error across 99 innings equating to a .992 fielding percentage.  So far this season, he’s working on a fielding percentage of .991, which would categorize him as a league-average first baseman.

I’d say is probably higher than anyone would have expected coming in to this season (including me, for sure).  Sure, we are only a handful of games into the season, but this is still a pretty big deal especially if the trend continues.

This was a good move for both parties, whether Alvarez recognizes it or not.

For the Pirates, they now have the ability to give Josh Harrison regular playing time at a single position while keeping Alvarez’ bat in the lineup (at the same time as removing his defensive footprint at third base).

For Alvarez, perhaps the move across the diamond takes some of the pressure off and allows him to focus more on hitting for power, not to mention the added health benefits of playing a less physical position that is first base. Aside from the market demand in free agency, there was really no benefit to Alvarez in keeping him at third base.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be very pleased with how well Alvarez is working out defensively. Statistically speaking, he’d probably have at least 2-3 errors by this point at third base if he hadn’t made the move, the majority of which would have been throwing errors (which lead to extra bases).

Anytime you have a player transitioning to a position in which he’s never played and is considered to be a statistically average defender, that’s a pretty good day.


–  Alvarez has made some solid plays at first base while committing only a lone error (in the second game of the season) in 106 chances.  You can find some of this highlights so far this year in the following video (a nice play on a ball to his right, as well as a few picks):

– Entering Tuesday, Alvarez was the only member of the Pittsburgh Pirates to start every game this season. The Pirates face the Chicago Cubs and Travis Wood, a lefty, was the opposing starter for that game.

–  I’d probably have given Tuesday’s start to Sean Rodriguez ahead of Corey HartAndrew Lambo is probably stuck riding the pine pony again due to the lefty-lefty matchup (or because he can’t seem to hit at the major league level).

–  Is the woman who got hit in the head with a foul ball last night OK? I’m not linking the video as it may be disturbing for some. You can the video linked within the article.

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