Baltimore Orioles: Preaching Patience with Pedro Alvarez

Apr 26, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Pedro Alvarez (24) singles during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Pedro Alvarez (24) singles during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pedro Alvarez has been a disappointment so far for the Orioles but there are some encouraging signs that suggest they should stick with him.

Baltimore Orioles fans expected quite a bit out of Pedro Alvarez when the Orioles signed him in early March. He was expected to help an already potent lineup even more powerful and dangerous.

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While the Orioles lineup this season has been extremely powerful and dangerous, Alvarez has not been playing as big of a role in it as the team expected him to play when they signed him. Alvarez’s tenure with the Orioles has gotten off to a very slow start. Entering May 17, Alvarez owns a .205 batting average, a .315 on base percentage, and a .346 slugging percentage. A .661 OPS isn’t acceptable for any starting position player, let alone the designated hitter. He only has two home runs and five doubles.

However, the Orioles should continue to be patient with him because despite his numbers looking bad on paper, there are some underlying numbers that are encouraging enough that to continue giving Pedro Alvarez chances to produce.

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The main reason why Alvarez should continue to get chances (at least against right handed pitchers) is that he gets on base at a nice rate, especially when you consider his batting average. His 14.1 percent walk rate as of May 17 is by far the best of his career. Before 2016, his highest in any MLB season was 10.1 percent in 2014. Alvarez sees a lot of pitches in his at bats. He’s doing a lot of things right.

Another reason why the Orioles shouldn’t give up on Alvarez yet is that he’s not striking out like he usually does. It could be the result of a two month small sample size, but his 19.6 percent strikeout percentage is the lowest of his career. His previous low? 25.6 percent in 2014. That’s a sign that maybe he isn’t the painfully all-or-nothing player that he was with the Pirates. He’s also making contact with more pitches, which his Z-Contact percentage of 88.9 percent (also a career high) shows.

Finally, Pedro Alvarez has had awful BABIP (batting average of balls in play) luck. Part of it is because he’s hitting too many ground balls (50.8 percent) and fly balls (34.4 percent) and not enough line drives (14.8 percent). However, even when one considers that Alvarez is almost exclusively a pull hitter and is shifted as such, a .237 BABIP is outrageously low. That’s by a huge margin a career low for Alvarez.

Next: Machado Open To Long-Term Contract

At some point, Orioles manager Buck Showalter will have to stop caring about the process and replace Pedro Alvarez in the lineup with someone who will get better results. That point has yet to be reached.