Monday, August 04, 2014

Play Pedro Alvarez In Right Field

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is struggling. Actually, that may be an understatement. Alvarez seems to have lost the ability to accurately throw the ball to first base. He leads the majors in errors and has been replaced by Josh Harrison. Meanwhile, Alvarez led the National League in home runs last season and is one of the best power hitters in baseball when he gets on a hot streak. However, he's not going to get on any type of hot streak since he's not actually playing other than an occasional pinch hitting appearance. Alvarez is out of options (meaning that he can't get sent down to the minor leagues), so the Pirates appear to be stuck. Pedro is a major defensive liability, yet, no one on the team can match his power.

With the Pirates (likely) placing reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list, the team needs to find a way to get Pedro into the line-up. Since Harrison is now playing third, my solution is to start Pedro in right field. Yes, this may be crazy, but what are the other options?

Let's start with why this won't work. Pedro Alvarez has only played third base during his time with the Pirates, in the minor leagues and at Vanderbilt University. Maybe Alvarez played some outfield in high school, but to my knowledge, he did not. Teaching a player a new position in, oh, two days doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Plus, PNC Park requires athletic outfielders in both left field and center field. Alvarez is likely not athletic enough for either of these positions. With McCutchen going on the DL, Starling Marte can move to center. Do you move rookie Gregory Polanco to a brand new position to accommodate Alvarez?

Now the alternative. The Pirates recently signed Jayson Nix who has already played in Philadelphia and Tampa this season. You can play him and move Harrison to OF along with Marte and Polanco. You can also keep Harrison at 3B and have Travis Snider or Jose Tabata as your regular outfielders. Regardless, a Pirates line-up without McCutchen and Alvarez is not intimidating and not one that you would expect to regularly score more than 3 runs per game. Alvarez has the ability to hit game-changing home runs and his on-base percentage has improved from last season.

If you're looking for a similar situation, the Nationals moved Ryan Zimmerman to the outfield this season, a position he never played previously. That experiment seemed to go well until he got re-injured (which had nothing to do with the move to the outfield).

Vote for Pedro (to play right field)!

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