June 16, 2010
Bucs Call Up Alvarez
The Pirates continue their efforts to improve their team and their lineup by calling up Pedro Alvarez—this move has some fantasy implications, given both his preseason PECOTA forecasts as well as his performance at Triple-A this season.
Alvarez, a third baseman, joins Neil Walker and Jose Tabata in the lineup—the three hitters were in the top 10 in minor league equivalent runs (based on True Average, or TAv) in the International League, and they are now reunited a level higher. Alvarez' .284 translated TAv is well above the average for third base at the major-league level (.269, with a .266/.332/.421 collective line), and his weighted-mean projection was .246/.326/.441, which is in the same neighborhood as league average. Of course, that projection was calculated prior to Alvarez hitting well at Triple-A, and though he still has some work to do in order to become a consistent threat in the lineup, it wouldn't be a shocker to see him hit somewhere between his 70th (.256/.340/.467) and his 80th (.262/.344/.483) percentile projections. The safe money is on a performance a bit below that, at least in 2010, but he's capable of holding his own.
Alvarez hit just .224/.298/.424 in April, but has turned things on since with a .294/.393/.588 May and an OPS over 1000 so far in June. His home/road split is a bit jarring--.327/.424/.573 at home, and .235/.308/.500 on the road. Both of those samples are small though, and given he's still hitting for power on the road, you can assume this has more to do with that than an actual split in his performance (also, remember that TAv adjusts for home/road performance, so you've already seen his value with an adjustment built in).
The Bucs, who rank at or towards the bottom in far too many offensive categories, could use Alvarez in their lineup every day. Pirate third basemen have hit .231/.299/.353 this season as a unit, most of which comes from Andy LaRoche's abysmal .232/.295/.316 showing. LaRoche did not have much fantasy value prior to this, and though he has shown flashes of coming around over the past two seasons with Pittsburgh, it never materialized into anything consistent. Alvarez' low-end projections are replacement level, but still more appealing than what LaRoche has put up in 2010.
Alvarez has been mentioned as a likely candidate to be called up for weeks now, given both Pittburgh's struggles and his own success in the minors, so unless you're in a mixed league chances are he's already warming someone's bench. If you need some help offensively though, and he's available, he's worth a look—be warned against left-handed pitching (though he's improved on that note, and is hitting .323/.408/.661 against southpaws this year, though in just 62 at-bats) but don't let that stop you from picking him up.