Baltimore Orioles: Plate Discipline Likely What’s Keeping Dariel Alvarez in Norfolk


On the same day that MLB managers voted Orioles OF prospect Dariel Alvarez as having the best outfield arm in AAA, the Baltimore Orioles fell 6-5 in an 11-inning bout at Seattle.

In that game, starting left fielder Nolan Reimold went 0-4 with two strikeouts, lowering his yearly batting average to a not-so-respectable .226. Fans are — and have been for a while — calling for the promotion of Nofolk Tide outfielder Dariel Alvarez.

My thoughts? Not so fast.

The Alvarez faithful are not wrong to notice his potential. The 26-year-old Cuban has actually been raking in AAA Norfolk. His 15 home runs rank him 7th in the International League, and his .271 average can be filed away under the “pretty darn good” category.

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Baltimore Orioles: Dariel Álvarez's journey from Camagüey to Saltillo
Baltimore Orioles: Dariel Álvarez's journey from Camagüey to Saltillo /

Call to the Pen

  • A few former MLB players making an impact in the Mexican LeagueCall to the Pen
  • In fact, while Manny Machado was going yard at the professional home run derby, Dariel Alvarez was in Omaha, Nebraska where he WON the AAA version of the event.

    So let’s recap.

    Hitting for Average: check

    Hitting for Power: check

    Defense: check

    Major League Name: even that deserves fat ol’ check

    You may seem confused that Dariel Alvarez has yet to appear with the Orioles this season. Yet, Alvarez has a very transparent weakness. He cannot take a walk.

    In the MLB, the league average for the walk percentage statistic is 7.5%. Dariel Alvarez has walked in only 3.08% of his plate appearances this season. And that’s in the MINOR LEAGUES.

    This is not to say that pitchers in AAA are terrible, but how do we expect him to improve this stat in the major leagues?

    In the pros, a pitcher will make you look silly if he realizes that you do not know your way around the strike zone. I think Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette is well-aware of this.

    To further this argument is the fact that Alvarez finds himself lugging around a poor .300 OBP. It is one thing to have an on base percentage like this when you’re hitting in the low .200’s, but Alvarez has an average that is just 29 points lower than his OBP.

    This may be confusing if you aren’t a stat guru, so let’s put this into perspective. Nolan Reimold and Travis Snider have an OBP higher than .300 in THE PROS this season.

    Not good news for Alvarez.

    If you’ve followed the O’s this season, you know that plate discipline is something that has haunted the team, with first-pitch pop-outs and three-pitch K’s writing the script for a large number of their losses.

    I like Alvarez, and I think his high power and moderate average could allow him to be a scaled-down version of Chris Davis starting in 2016 or 2017. We might even see him this September as a reserve once rosters expand. 

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    Right now, however, what the Orioles need most are runners on base, and guys who are not afraid to stretch out a count. Look for Alvarez to continue tearing it up in AAA this year, and if he does happen to make an MLB appearance, make sure to tone down your expectations.

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