Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Pedro Alvarez en fuego

by Nicholas Minnix on May 3, 2012 @ 16:25:05 PDT

 


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Pedro Alvarez is en fuego. He homered again today in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 6-3 victory against the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. It's the first home run that the improved Jake Westbrook has allowed this season. It makes seven for Alvarez, who has a .257 average and a .757 slugging percentage in his first 70 at-bats of 2012.

What he'll put up in the BA column, of course, has been the biggest potential drawback. Through Thursday's game, Alvarez has fanned in 32.4 percent of his plate appearances this season, which is only a little worse than the career rate he's established (31.1). His rate of contact by pitch may slowly be climbing, too, but it's still nowhere near a respectable 80 percent ... or even 75 percent.

Alvarez was a polarizing prospect because of his enthralling power and troubling plate discipline. The unconvinced don't believe that he'll hit enough, and that camp gained some allegiance after his .191/.272/.289 flameout in 2011. The faithful deem his ability too great to succumb to the pitfalls of poor BA indicators, like most regular hopefuls do.

Most are like the Bucs supporters that Brian O'Neill describes in this piece comparing Alvarez to past prospects at the position in the 'Burgh. A problem for fantasy baseball players is that, if they follow such a fair-weather practice, they may end up with yellow snow on their faces.

The 25-year-old's heretofore performance, as you just read, stacks up favorably to the marks of those predecessors. So, roto owner, are you getting something closer to Aramis Ramirez, or Jeff King? Not that King was a bad player, but there's a clear disparity in class there.

The difference - between Alvarez and either of them - is that the organization's latest hope at the hot corner has struck out more than twice as often as either of them did (or has) during their careers.

Alvarez's instincts are what make up the difference. The rewards should be plentiful, but fantasy owners have to accept that the growing pains may still be substantial. He has the ability to outperform the average player who swings and misses so often.

Alvarez is gaining confidence in at the dish, according to his manager. He's "just trying to keep it as simple as possible." His swing looks a touch more effortless now than it did four weeks ago. His bat isn't whipping through the zone so much as it is traveling. That's the work of an uber-talented hitter.

He'll cool off, and you'll hear that it's because of his propensity to hack. To a degree, that's true, and he can be in a funk for quite some time. But Alvarez can recover more quickly than most, too. For some, it really is most about feel. For the type of production he's providing, he's a must-own. If he's finally comfortable making adjustments, he'll also be worth holding, even through cold spells.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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