As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Alvarez is out and Josh Harrison is in. For those of you (like me) who drafted Alvarez in the mid-to-late rounds expecting at least a .230 average and 28-35 HR at third base, the fall has been particularly painful. Finding replacement players on free agency is hard. Finding replacement power is near impossible.
numberFire suggests the devil is in the pitch selection — suddenly he can’t hit anything but fastballs.
When looking at which pitches are causing Alvarez the most trouble, it’s easy; the answer is all of them. Most Major Leaguers feast on fastballs in hitter’s counts, and that’s still the case with Alvarez, with 11 of his 15 home runs coming against the fastball. It’s the off-speed and breaking balls that are causing him havoc. Here’s a look:
Well that explains a lot. For 2014 Alvarez is done. No surprise there. It also looks like Harrison will be a big part of Pittsburgh’s 2015 plans, and with a promising outfield trio of Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte, chances are there won’t be a ton of playing time available in the outfield. Harrison will probably stick at third base. But Pittsburgh has been looking for a full-time first baseman for awhile now and given Alvarez suddenly sub-bar defense, particularly when it comes to getting the ball across the diamond, he makes for an attractive internal replacement.
Thankfully Alvarez will maintain third base eligibility next season, but his ability to keep it beyond 2015 will dictate much of his fantasy value. (Unfortunately, a .230 average and 28-35 HR doesn’t play nearly as well at first base as it does at the hot corner.) The good news is that Alvarez will still be third base eligible next season and should be incredibly cheap in drafts, probably similar in value to Chris Carter entering this season (who George Fitopoulos wrote a great piece about yesterday). While it’s a little early to be talking about 2015 draft stock, I’d have Alvarez right near the top of my must-target list. What about you?