Ahem, no. Let’s just get that out of the way.
The fact is, Alvarez is hitting .196/.260/.380 off left handed pitchers and his strikeout rate is 37%. For a bigger sample size, in nearly 300 plate appearances in his career, he’s hitting .205/.279/.348 versus lefties with a 37.5% strikeout rate. That’s Lucas Duda territory, and we know where he is right now. You don’t want him in your lineup versus a left handed pitcher if you can avoid it.
After having a particularly disastrous 2011, Alvarez started 2012 much the same, hitting .205/.263/.424 from April through May and his ownership was rock bottom. But in the last two months, he’s almost been a completely different hitter — or if you’re the Pirates, he’s become the hitter they have hoped for. Between the beginning of June to August 1, Alvarez is hitting .262/.342/.529 with 13 of his 21 HR’s coming during that span. This is the Pedro Alvarez that fantasy owners have been waiting for.
Over the course of the season, he’s been hitting right handed pitching well – .251/.323/.519 with an ISO of .268. He’s hit 17 of his 21 home runs off righties and he walks at a much more respectable 10% clip. Overall, his fantasy baseball value has been almost entirely wrapped up in his platoon splits versus righties, which is probably the best way to use him. But what’s interesting is looking at the last couple of months, Alvarez has managed to cut down on his strikeouts and increase his walks even versus lefties:
Hey, it’s progress.
Of the four home runs he’s hit against left handers this season, three of them have been in the past two months. No, three home runs in two months is nothing to get your undergarments in a bunch about, but he’s making strides against left handers, even if they’re baby strides.
He will still have an occasional at bat that might resemble Dayn Perry in a “you won a chance to face Clayton Kershaw” contest. But at a minimum, if you’ve been hesitant to platoon him, you can at least do so without quite as much fear when the LOOGY comes in around the 7th or 8th inning. And there appears to be a greater chance that he’ll even get on base when he faces them. If you’re lucky, maybe he’ll do this:
Alvarez is still just 25 years old and right now, he’s ranked fifth in the National League in home runs. His ownership still lags in the 50-60 percentile, depending on format, and it is almost assuredly because of batting average fears. But if you’re willing/able to platoon him against righties, you’ve got a pretty powerful third base option who will hit for at least close to a respectable batting average. And if you buy the recent trends, he might not be a complete black hole against southpaws going forward either.