Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals: 5 players to watch

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

Pedro Alvarez, 3B/DH

The Orioles’ run production this season hasn’t exactly been a team effort. Manny Machado is sitting pretty with a .346/.430/.623 slash line, but of the team’s six other qualified players, five have been below-average at the plate.

Then there’s Alvarez, the former Silver Slugger with a powerful swing and a mixed track record in the major leagues. The Vanderbilt product hasn’t been worth more than a single Win Above Replacement in any year since 2013, but with a .205/.311/.500 line in 2018, he’s one of the Birds’ best options in the middle of the lineup.

That slash line is awfully lopsided, and it’s mostly because Alvarez is the Platonic ideal of an all-or-nothing player. He has collected just 16 hits on the year, but seven of those left the ballpark. The 31-year-old is like an active volcano: harmless most of the time, but prone to massive eruptions.

It’s an entirely different story when he takes the field. Alvarez has been the starting DH in 107 out of his 153 games with Baltimore since the start of 2016, but with the recent return of Mark Trumbo, Buck Showalter has been playing him at the hot corner.

The results have been predictably bad. Just take a look at this woeful play:

Alvarez slashed just .105/.150/.263 over the Birds’ recent road trip, begging an important question: is it worth suffering through his awful defense and limited contact skills for a bit of sporadic power? This week’s home stand could provide some clarity.