Archive for the ‘Pedro Alvarez’ Category

pedro alvarez is El Toro

Pedro Cerrano: Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.

You can actually hide a weakness in the real life major leagues.

Consider the case of one Mike Zunino. The book on Zunino in Triple-A was that he couldn’t hit the curveball, and yet his major league strikeout rate (23.4%) works at his position (catchers strike out 20.2% of the time) and comes in a 100+ plate appearance, which is almost reliable. The problem with exploiting this weakness is that not every pitcher has a curveball. The league sees 9.6% curveballs, Zunino saw 10.6% before injury felled him. He didn’t do much with those curveballs — it was his worst pitch  by FanGraphs’ pitch-type values — but 90% of the pitches he saw weren’t curveballs.

So it’s possible. And that’s how you get major league hitters that have weaknesses, holes in their approach. Stephen Loftus at Beyond the Box Score set out to find those holes. By using the batting average on each pitch and then weighting things appropriately, he found the pitches that are kryptonite for different hitters around the league.

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Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers

Dan Uggla is a baseball player. He might be a quickly worsening baseball player, but he is a player none the less. The list of good things Dan Uggla is capable of accomplishing on the baseball field gets shorter with each passing day.

At this point, in 2013, “hit a home” and “draw a walk” are really the only positive baseball outcomes to comprise that list. He does those two things quite well and that is about it.

To date, Dan Uggla has done the former 13 times and the latter 36 times. Each of those ranks him second on his team, the high-scoring Braves who seem to take his personal “Three True Outcomes” approach of as their team-wide ethos.

The list of things Dan Uggla does poorly grows longer by the minute. “Make contact” and “play defense” are chief among them, as his .193/.322/.421 line and barely above replacement level value suggests. The first item partners with a swing which produces a lot of fly balls and puts Dan Uggla on the path to notoriety.

Despite hitting 13 home runs, Dan Uggla has just 17 extra base hits on the season. Total. 13 home runs, two doubles, two triples. Which is where history and, hopefully, destiny stroll onto the stage.

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WAR isn’t perfect. WAR is fun and quick and easy. It has weaknesses and it has strengths. Due to its “all in one” nature and growing influence among baseball fans and writers, WAR faces attacks from those seeking to poke holes in this magic stat.

It is important that the keepers and developers of WAR continue improving and moulding it, making better use of the available information. The internal composition of WAR might change but the basic idea — the core fundamental — show the versatility and value of WAR. The ability to compare against eras and competition is one thing.

There is more than one way to skin a cat and WAR is on it. This trait alone makes it a valuable tool.

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As you may well know, I am somewhat fixated on Pedro Alvarez. It is rare to see a top prospect come so very close to wearing the “bust” tag only to suddenly figure things out at the big league level. Then slump badly again. Pedro Alvarez was something of a punchline, a player who started the season so slowly it made for great sport.

Miraculously, Pedro Alvarez caught fire. Then he returned to normal levels of production for Pedro Alvarez. Then, miraculously, he caught fire again. This time…he stayed hot.

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A crazy thing happened earlier this season: Pedro Alvarez got red hot at the plate and looked like a legit Major League hitter. After some gentle cajoling by yours truly, the Pirates third baseman started smacking dingers and nudged his weighted on base beyond that of a league average hitter! And there was much rejoicing in Western Pennsylvania!

Sadly, it didn’t last. Pedro Alvarez has too much Pedro Alvarez in him to stay above average for long. Just as quickly as it he got over the league average threshold, Pedro Alvarez stopped hitting home runs and slipped below it. A pity, really.

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On April 24th, we took some gentle liberties with Pedro Alvarez’s struggles at the plate here at Getting Blanked. The Pirates third baseman for life posted a hideous slash line of .108/.132/.270 and an unsightly .175 wOBA. We joked about how many home runs in a row Alvarez needs to reach even a league-average level of production, taking the thin post premise much farther than it deserved. Pedro Alvarez can barely make contact, he’ll never hit eleven home runs in a row lol.

A funny thing happened over the next seven days: Pedro Alvarez went HAM at the plate. Pedro Alvarez is now, miraculously, a league-average hitter. Better than average, actually.

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Pedro Alvarez is, right now, a bad baseball player. Pedro Alvarez has spent most of his big league career as a bad baseball player. Try as they might, the Pirates cannot seem to make Pedro Alvarez into a good Major League baseball player. They really need him to be a good Major League baseball player, because the Pirates gave him a lot of money as the second overall pick in the 2008 draft. A lofty bonus and a Major League contract, too. It was all very un-Pirates and, of course, it hasn’t worked out.

So far in 2012, Pedro Alvarez owns one of the worst slash lines you could ever imagine: .108/.132/.270. He is 4-37 with one walk and two home runs. It is terrible. His .175 wOBA is an unsightly blight on the leaderboards of the world.

With the help of the newly-published linear weights (from Fangraphs) we can toy with numbers like weighted on-base average and make them our own. Using this knowledge, want to try and fix Pedro Alvarez. Not really fix him, but tinker with his numbers to bring them up to snuff.

Pedro Alvarez is so far behind the pack offensively, it is going to take a real jump start to get him back to league average. What kind of a jump start, you ask? How about consecutive home runs? Just start mashing taters until he gets to league average.

How many consecutive home runs would it take for Pedro Alvarez to become an average big league hitter? What about the best hitter in baseball? The results might shock you!

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