Tag: Pedro Alvarez

PEDRO

| August 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

Pedro AlvarezWith all due respect to a terrific outing from James McDonald tonight, and an all around great team win in a much, much needed game, this was an amazing performance from Pedro Alvarez tonight.  Pedro was 4 for 5, with 2 MONSTROUS home runs, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI.  And did I mention anything about the monstrosity of the two home runs?

Nevermind they were big home runs.

Nevermind they were long home runs.

This game was pretty much the biggest game the Pirates have ever played in the history of PNC Park.  They lose tonight, and they are dead to rights – slumping, season slipping away, 4 games out of the wild card with no hope fading fast.  But Pedro’s home runs not only led the team in the 9-0 win, but the energy that came along with those two home runs just may have provided the spark and energy that this team desperately needed to get back some positive momentum in the playoff chase.

A 9-0 win gave the Buccos their 69th win of the season.   That is more than they won in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005.   And it is still only August 28th.  So that is a great milestone, but in this season of risen expectations, it is just a step along the way.  And as big of a game as it was, it’s career as the biggest game ever in PNC Park history will be shortlived, as tomorrow night, the Pirates will play one just a little bigger.  But after that game, it’s 9 games against the Brewers, Astros, and Cubs.  Then 3 in Cincinnati, followed by 10 more games against the Brewers, Astros and Cubs.  That is a schedule that plays favorably for the Pirates, but they still have to win the games.

The performance from Pedro tonight was as clutch and locked in as you will ever see anyone.  Hopefully it was the spark that this team needs to carry them out of August and into September and beyond.  Go Buccos!

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1st Place Pirates Keep Rolling

| July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

July 4, 2012 NL Central standings

Happy 4th of July everyone.  The Pittsburgh Pirates definitely made it a happy 4th of July.  Just like they did the 3rd of July.  And the 2nd of July.  And 42 other days so far during this 2012 Major League Baseball season.  The Buccos are doing exactly what they need to be doing right now… making hay when the sun shines so to speak.  When you play the worst teams in baseball, you need to beat them.  And with the 6-4 win over the Houston Astros today, they did that for the 3rd time in the first 3 games of this series.   Today’s win, the first without the benefit of a Pirates home run in 12 games, moved the Pirates to 45-36 – a record that is more and more making the whole .500 or bust quest a very minor afterthought.

This team finds ways to win.  Today, it was Mayor Pedro, the Fort and the Legend all coming through with offensive games.  Pedro’s 2 run single now gives him an incredible 48 RBI this season, after 81 games in the books and 81 more to go.  It’s easy to figure out season paces right now, but considering his early season struggles, I’d have to take the over on his 96 RBI pace to end the season right now.  And while we’re at it, hats off to Pedro Alvarez for really sticking with it and working hard to persevere this season.  I think he is always going to be a streaky hitter, but at Clint Hurdle said, Pedro wouldn’t have gotten many votes for mayor earlier this year.  Not too many people believed in him, and now, he’s found a home in the middle of this lineup and has show terrific improvement with plate discipline and pitch selection.  He’s proving to be an inspiration to anyone that has ever had to overcome adversity in life, and he’s a guy that I am rooting for to be the best player that his talents will allow.

Michael McKenry has filled in admirably this last week or so when Rod Barajas get dinged up in the Phillies game, and Garrett Jones has also really picked up on his consistency as well.  Today, those three guys brought the lumber, going 5 for 9 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored.  MVP in waiting Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 3 to keep his average at a National League leading .360.  And every Pirates starter except for pitcher Kevin Correia had either a hit or a run scored today, which has been typical of this total team effort we have seen this year.

The win today moves the Pirates above the Texas Rangers for the best home record in all of baseball at 26-13, and they are now 25-12 overall since May 24, which will be tied for the best record in baseball since that time if the Yankees lose to Tampa today.

Pirates will go for the 4 game sweep and a ’10 games over .500′ record tommorrow night, with Jeff Karstens facing Bud Norris.   The weekend ahead brings in the San Francisco Giants sans Matt Cain.  The weekend matchups for that series are:  Erik Bedard vs. Barry Zito, James McDonald vs. Ryan Vogelsong, and A.J. Burnett vs. Tim Lincecum.   There is a decent chance the Pirates could hit the All Star break in first place with a blistering 49 wins.

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Bucco Breakdown – April 14, 2012

| April 14, 2012 | 1 Comment
Jobu

Time to sacrifice a chicken?

Well, I really, really did not want to use a second consecutive image from the movie ‘Major League’ on this blog, but I think after the baseball that we’ve seen the past week, we may have to resort to sacrificing a live chicken to turn the hitting woes around.

“I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats.”

That’s pretty much where we are right now.  Pirates pitching has been unbelievable.  They have given up 20 runs total in 7 games, less than 3 per game.  8 of those runs have come in the first inning, where we have not yet scored this year.   Take away our slow starts, and we’ve given up 12 runs in 54 non-first-innings this year.  That’s flat out amazing.

However, the Pirates have scored only 11 runs, total, in any inning, all season, in 7 games so far.   We’ll take a look into just how bad this team’s offense has been so far this year, with some interesting facts to put in perspective just how historically bad things have been so far in 2012.

Here is the Pirates Opening Day lineup, along with their batting averages now, through 7 games.

1. Alex Presley        .269
2. Jose Tabata        . 190
3. Andrew McCutchen       .360
4. Neil Walker       .048
5. Garret Jones     . 143
6. Rod Barajas      . 059
7. Pedro Alvarez    .063
8. Clint Barmes     . 105

- That is seven guys under .270,  SIX guys under .200, and THREE GUYS UNDER .065

- As a team, the Pirates are hitting .178.

- The Pirates have 39 hits in 7 games.     They also have struck out 58 times in 7 games.    The Pirates have drawn exactly 7 walks this season in seven games.  They are 5 walks behind the second to last place team (Phillies, with 12).

- The Pirates have 4 players with more than TWO hits total this season.   Andrew McCutchen (9),  Alex Presley (7), Casey McGehee (5) and Jose Tabata (4).   Yesterday, while the Pirates managed just one hit total in its game against San Francisco, there were 14 Major League players with more than 2 hits yesterday alone.

- The Pirates have 3 HR and 10 RBI as a team so far this season.  That is fewer home runs than Corey Hart, Ian Kinsler or Josh Willingham, and fewer RBI than David Freese, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier.   There are 11 other individual players with as many home runs as the Pirates have hit this season.

- The Pirates rank last in Major League Baseball in Runs Scored, Hits, RBI, Walks, Average, On Base %, Slugging % and of course OPS.  They are also last in Total Bases, Extra Base Hits, and Number of Pitches Faced.  They are second to last in doubles (7 to 6 over Cleveland), triples (with 1), and home runs (3-2 over Boston).

- If the next person that hits a home run for the Pirates is not named Clint Barmes, Pedro Alvarez, or Michael McKenry, they will be tied for the team lead in home runs with one.

- If Chicago Cubs’ 3B Ian Stewart were traded to the Pirates right this minute, and the only statistics he was allowed to bring with him were from his first at bat yesterday, he would immediately be tied for the Pirates team lead in homers with 1, and would be alone at the top of the RBI leaderboard with 3.

- Pedro Alvarez has struck out in 10 of 16 plate appearances this year.  Ironically enough, the two times he has reached base were by a ball hit over the fence for a home run, and on a dropped third strike when the first baseman dropped the ensuing throw to first.  He would come around to score after that happened, and is why he leads the team with 2 runs scored this year (tied with Andrew McCutchen and Michael McKenry).

- Not surprisingly, the Pirates have not had an intentional walk issued to them yet this year.

- Only five players have been issued a walk at all this year.   Three of them are not starters (Navarro, McKenry, and McLouth).   Only three walks have been issued to starters, two to Andrew McCutchen and one to Neil Walker.

- Pitchers Kevin Correia and James McDonald each have as many hits (1) as opening day starters Neil Walker, Rod Barajas, and Pedro Alvarez, as well as other key contributors who have started this season - Matt Hague, Josh Harrison, and Nate McLouth.

- Teams are likely to stop pitching to Andrew McCutchen until the rest of the team comes around.  The Pirates are hitting .178 as a team WITH him.  If you take out Cutch, the team batting average drops to .155.

- If you also take out Alex Presley, the team batting average drops to .137 for everyone else.

Hopefully, this trend comes to a screeching halt tonight, and it is something we look back on and laugh about.  But the start that we’ve seen from this offense so far this year has been, well…  offensive.

Yo bartender, Jobu needs a refill.

 

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2012 Pittsburgh Pirates – Something to Prove

| February 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

As I spent a little time earlier today thinking about the Pirates upcoming season, I couldn’t help but stop on virtuall every single player and think “wow, he’s got something to prove this year”.   That kind of thing often is present when teams put it all together for a surprising run at success.  Or it can be present when a team has a massive disappointment.  Only time will tell what is in store for the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, but we decided to take a look at each member of the Pirates and break down exactly what they have to prove in 2012, and how that will impact the team’s success this coming season.

 

3.  Neil Walker    Walker has the city in the palm of his hand.  Being the local kid, loving his hometown and saying and doing everything right, he is hands down the leader of this team and a forever fan favorite.  He’s also the guy most likely to be in a Pirates uniform for a very long time as there is no way the front office could ever afford to trade him or let him go.   So if you play on buying a Pirates jersey anytime soon, you can’t go wrong with Walker (or Tabata, thanks to him long term deal).

But on the field, we still don’t really know if he is the guy who hit .360 during the awesome July in Pittsburgh last year, or the guy who hit .227 and .213 in May and June, respectively. Walker probably gets a bit of a free pass when it comes to performance, as he plays hard and wants to win, and the fans love him.  But what they would really love is a career year for the switch hitting 2B.  His .297 average in .2010 was great, but his home run totals stayed at 12 for a second consecutive season this year while his batting average and OPS dipped from .811 to .742.

For the Pirates to take a next step, it would be great to see Walker get to that 15-20 HR area with an average closer to 2010 than 2011, and his clutch hitting / RBI totals to stay at where they were last year when he drove in 83 runs.   Walker has a chance to be a big time second baseball and All Star, but he really needs to show this year if he is going to be a good baseball player or a very good / great baseball player.

 

2. Pedro Alvarez   To say that expectations and pressure are through the roof on Pedro this year would be an understatement.  He has been considered the future of the franchise ever since he was drafted and signed a rookie contract, and then changed and re-signed his rookie contract.  Pedro has plenty of room to improve, as his decent 2010 rookie season was followed up by an absolutely horrendous 2011.  A .256 average and 16 home runs in 2010 set expectations of 30 HR season after season and being the #4 hitter in a Pirates lineup for years to come.   But the disappointment of an embarassing .191 average and 4 HR’s has fans and management wondering if he even has a future in big league baseball.

The Pirates absolutely need Pedro to be the player that they hoped for if they are going to have any chance at contending in the future.   But when you digress like Pedro did in 2011, you have to wonder what the issue is.  No player needs to start off with a good spring training more than Pedro Alvarez, and then keep it going into April.  If Alvarez can figure things out and put together a season equal or better than his rookie year, then the Pirates will challenge the .500 mark and perhaps contend in a down NL Central this year.   But if he gets off to a slow start, he’ll likely be getting his at bats in Indianapolis while the Pirates bide time to determine if he has a future at all in this organization.  Bill James projects Pedro to bounce back with a .252 average and 19 home runs, which would be a welcome season, although not nearly what was expected of him even last season.  If he can surpass those projections, then this Pirates team is not very far from contending.  No pressure, Pedro.

 

1. And the number one player with something to prove in 2012…   Andrew McCutchen    Cutch is hands down the Pirates player most likely to become a big time star in Major League Baseball.   McCutchen will be 25 years old this entire season, turning 26 in October, and is in his last season before becoming eligible for arbitration.   That means that he is just starting to enter the prime of his career at a time that could be financially lucrative to him.   But he’s never hit .290 and is coming off a .259 season with an OPS of .820.  He had good numbers in 2011, with 23 HR and 23 SB, but he didn’t have superstar numbers.  He was 5.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) so he definitely had a great year.  And to put that in perspective, NL MVP Ryan Braun was a 7.7 WAR in 2011.  So McCutchen had a terrific year.  But what is his ceiling?  And more importantly, what is reasonable for 2012?

It is no secret that how Cutch goes, so go the Pirates in 2012.  His defense is going to be there. He gets to everything and defensively, he saves the pitching staff runs just by patrolling centerfield. He led the National League in a stat called Range Factor / game, so his defensive value is proven and established.  Assuming he stays healthy,  is there any reason to doubt that Cutch could get his average up around the .286 he was at in 2009 or 2010? I personally think he could get that average up to .290 and be a 30/30 guy as a reasonable, yet very successful season.  Bill James projects Cutch to hit .277 with 19 HRs, 27 SB’s and 74 RBI.  Not a bad season, but none of which would be career highs.

If he’s going to be the highest paid player on the team in 2013 (and he likely will be after signing either an extension or getting a deal through arbitation), then he needs to take that next step toward becoming a big time outfielder.  Not that there is anything wrong with consistently being the type of player he was last year, but I don’t think that is good enough for him.  And for that reason, Andrew McCutchen is the #1 player on the 2012 Pirates with something to prove.

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