Buying High on Pedro Alvarez

If you had the patience to stick with Pedro Alvarez or the wherewithal to acquire him during his huge early season slump, you have been amply rewarded for your decision over Alvarez’s last month of play. The question is whether this performance will continue.

I think we can all be in agreement that he will not hit .312 as he has over the past 30 days. He probably also will not lead the league in RBI for the remainder of the year either. However, that does not mean he is a worthwhile candidate to move after his big power month. I would rather hold onto Alvarez and keep the 26-year-old’s power in my lineup as there is a non-zero chance that he ends up leading the NL in home runs.

There are things we all wish Alvarez did, most notably take more walks and strikeout less. While more of you would rather him hit for a higher average, that is just not something Alvarez is really capable of. He is capable of getting his walk rate north of 10% and if he did so, he would be able to bump his OBP up to a more respectable level that, coupled with his power, would make him one of the premier offensive third basemen in the league.

I like the ZiPs projection on Alvarez a lot, I think expecting a .311 OBP – obviously not great but serviceable given the offensive environment of baseball the past few years – and another 17 homers is great. The issue with the .311 OBP is that it comes with a .237 average, which hurts a good deal if you are still in leagues that use average. ZiPs basically has his ISO dropping around .045 points and everything else staying more or less the same. To me that is an incredibly valuable player and I think there are a number of owners in leagues that are more than willing to move Alvarez given his current torrid stretch.

I have said this a decent amount this year, but if a player is willing to sell a player high then they are usually willing to take less value than what the player is actually worth at that time. They think a player can be worth “x” but are willing to take “y” because everyone knows he is on a hot stretch. I love to take advantage of owners willing to move players on hot stretches that don’t seem like random blips on the radar. We have seen Alvarez hit for massive power in the past and that’s really what he’s doing now with a ton of BABIP luck as well. That won’t continue, but the season long numbers certainly can I want to be the owner who adds another 17 homers and 50 RBI from my 3B slot. You should want that also if you are struggling at that position, corner infield, or the utility slot.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

19 Responses to “Buying High on Pedro Alvarez”

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  1. rotowizard says:

    Having watched him play every day for three years, there’s also a non zero chance that he goes ice cold for two months and completely torpedoes your season.

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  2. max says:

    I own Alvarez in a dynasty league and no matter how hot he gets no one ever seems interested in trading for him. I can’t sell high- I can’t even get what I feel is fair value. I’m better off holding on to him and his 30+ HR.

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  3. Apocalypse33 says:

    I just traded Alvarez and Yonder Alonso for Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick in a dynasty league. I kinda like my end, but I also hate my end. I also had Longo at 3b already (although we have a ton of Util spots, and I was playing Alvarez there).

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  4. Bart says:

    I’m in a 10 team keeper league and just traded Alvarez for Josh Johnson. I know Johnson is an injury risk but I also have Sandoval, Headley and Carpenter at 3B. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope Johnson can stay healthy.

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  5. Seanto says:

    It seems to me that Alvarez compares developmentally and skills-wise to current fantasy darling Chris Davis. Put the two Fangraphs profiles next to each other and the similarities are almost eerie. Alvarez’s 2013, so far, favors comparably to Chris Davis’ 2012, where he also got hot mid season and just never seemed to turn it off. Earlier this season, Fangraphs argued that it was because Davis learned better plate discipline. For Alvarez, I think he’s learning to hit more then just fastballs.

    I’ll let the experts pontificate on that, but in watching his approach, he looks like he’s learning to make better contact on worse pitches while slightly improving his discipline at the plate.

    I have him in a dynasty league and he might as well be untouchable. From a value standpoint, why would he be worth less then Ryan Zimmerman or Pablo Sandoval? He will hit more HRs then either of those two, albeit with a worse AVG and OPS. But when you’re getting 30+ moonshots a year, who cares?

    Andohbytheway, did anyone mention that he is just 26? Why can’t he continue to improve the things that have held him down in the past? He has shown improvement statistically each of the last three seasons, so why can’t he get better like Chris Davis, who also finally realized his immense potential at the age of 26.

    I’m keeping Alvarez. I spent a 19th round pick on a guy who can realistically be valued as one of the top 10 (hitting) 3-baggers in baseball. In a keeper/dynasty league, I’d rather have Alvarez then Adrian Beltre (age 34), Ryan Zimmerman (health issues), or Hanley Ramirez (declining skills).

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    • kid says:

      What Davis is doing this year was completely unexpected by everybody, probably because the chances of somebody so far into their development improving so dramatically are typically extremely low.

      You can play that game with Alvarez but the overwhelming probability is that he keeps doing exactly what he’s been doing – providing ~30 HR year with a terrible average – especially since all of his contact/plate discipline metrics are staying the same or getting worse. Could he have a peak year where the BABIP plays just right and he bats .250? Sure. But that’s more of a 90th percentile performance than a year-to-year occurrence.

      Also, the power numbers are definitely sexy but he’s a pretty big drag on runs scored, averaging just 64 runs per 162 games played, not to mention the complete lack of steals.

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    • Jason Castro's mother says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Talk about lying to yourself.

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  6. shibboleth says:

    I’m with Max – Alvarez needs to do this for another season or two before he gets the Dunn-in-his-prime treatment. Until then I don’t know if he’ll ever garner fair trade value for his owner. I’m all for trying to move him, but don’t see how… his perception and streakiness are still too fresh in people’s minds.

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  7. RugbyD says:

    Position eligibility aside, would you rather have Chris Carter or Pedro? This-year and dynasty?

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  8. Tchaikovsky08 says:

    I’m an Alvarez owner and I’ve loved his past month (picked him up after an impatient owner dropped him).

    But I’m concerned. His contact skills are DECLINING this year. He has a hellishly bad 18.1 SwSt%. That’s almost impossibly bad. It’s borne out by his career low, and laughably terrible, 63.7% contact%. He’s also striking out 32% of the time — another number above his career average.

    Equally distressingly, he has a 31% HR/FB. Last year he had 25%, and his career average is 22.2%.

    I dunno, I’m a little nervous of Mr. Alvarez ROS. I hope a switch has been flipped, but it’s hard to tell looking at those ugly peripherals.

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  9. max says:

    Seanto, I agree with almost everything you said. I do think it’s a stretch to anoint Alvarez the next Davis, but then again I don’t think Chris Davis will ever hit over .285 again.

    People out there seem to think Alvarez is Russel Branyan and won’t give you a worthwhile return, so keep him. He will out-homer almost every other 3B in the game (aside from Edwin).

    I prefer him to Ryan Zimmerman as well, but I’ll take Beltre any day of the week, even when he is 37 years old. He’s that good.

    Keep in mind that last year April and May was his worst months as well. From here on out I don’t see why he can’t hit .260

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    • kevinguy says:

      I agree – I’ve always had a soft spot for Alvarez and his massive power upside. I traded for him in my ottoneu points league (with a $5 salary)a month or so ago, completely expecting what I’ve gotten so far. While I do think in his prime years he’ll only be a .250 hitter, I think he has a nice stretch of 35-45 HR seasons coming up. If you look at his month by month splits over his last 3 years, he gets hotter and hotter every month. I think that same progression will be what his season by season stats will start to look like.

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  10. max says:

    and Cabrera, of course.

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  11. fairacres says:

    I don’t own Alvarez so I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but to me, the 31% HR/FB rate is nuts. Is that REALLY sustainable over a full season, especially when the contact skills are so dicey? Is it reasonable to expect that over 150 games, one of every three fly balls a player hits will be a home run??? A 20-25% HR/FB would be huge. . .I just don’t think 31% is sustainable over the long run.

    I am not sure about the comparisons to Chris Davis. Davis’ BABIP is .400 halfway into the season . . .I question if THAT is sustainable.

    Watching them both over the past couple of years, my sense is that Davis is the more complete hitter with the better approach (both are middle class man’s three true outcomes guys — lots of HR’s and K’s, some walks, but not in the class of Adam Dunn). . .but I think both regress some in the second half, and I would prefer Davis over the long haul.

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  12. SprayingMantis says:

    Pedro’s strikeout at-bats look many times better this year than they did last. I know his current HR performance appears to be unsustainable, but the guy just may be ML’s most powerful hitter when he makes contact. I’d love to see him in the derby, provided his pitcher doesn’t throw any sliders in the dirt.

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  13. Lance Bass says:

    Hey Ben Duronio, Pedro has scored 35 runs on the season, with 20 of those coming off of his own home runs. Someone should research for me the highest percentage of runs scored in a single season via their own home run. It needs to list and discuss the top 10 seasons of all-time, with the cutoff being 30 home runs.

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  14. Gundamrx793 says:

    Would you take him over Freese? I’m in a 10-team h2h redraft league.

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