Monday rewind: Pedro Alvarez’s impact

Pedro Alvarez’s fifth-inning home run — the 1,000th hit at PNC Park, a nice footnote — could do little to avoid a 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks. Alvarez had a chance to do something more about it in the eighth, when he came up with two outs representing the tying run against Daniel Hudson, a former starting pitcher off whom he owned two homers hit with no one on base early in games.

Alvarez struck out.

Another unfortunate example of why he is possibly the least impactful legitimate slugger in the Majors. 

The Pirates, obviously, accept Alvarez at first base because — other than the occasional truly impressive defensive play — of the threat of his power, both in how it affects opposition strategy and in terms of delivery. The former seems to happen more than the latter.

Sixteen of his 19 homers have been solos, putting a dent into his overall solid offensive line. His 59 RBIs are second on the Bucs and already three more than he had all last season. Subtracting himself, however, he has driven in 40 teammates — of the 149 who have been in scoring position when he has come up.

Team RBI leader Andrew McCutchen, for comparison, has delivered 59 teammates (77 RBIs less his 18 homers) in fewer chances — 144 have been in scoring position for him.

Alvarez’s .252 average would be a full-season career best for him. But he is that rare Major Leaguer whose average is lower (.235) with men in scoring position. Because of various factors — pressure on pitcher, defensive alignments, etc. — the league norm is higher with MISP (.257) than not (.246).

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