Like Jason Heyward? Why not Pedro Alvarez?

By Tommy Rancel //

While some fan bases prepare for a final month of playoff races, Pittsburgh Pirates fans are nearing the end of the franchise’s 18th consecutive losing season. This means the Pirates have been bottom dwellers for the entire life span of most high school seniors. However, we’re not here to focus on the past, but rather, the future. Namely, the future of Pedro Alvarez.

After years of misses at the top of the draft, the Pirates selected Alvarez in 2008. The former Vanderbilt teammate of Rays ace David Price is already a regular in the Pittsburgh lineup. Some questions remain about which side of the diamond he’ll play down the road, but for now, the 23-year-old the man at the hot corner for the Buccos.

Before signing his pro contract, Alvarez and his agent Scott Boras made plenty of headlines, In the end, though, he made his major league debut with relatively little hype. Despite lacking the media coverage of Jason Heyward (to say nothing of Stephen Strasburg) upon his debut, Alvarez has been one of this year’s most productive rookies, coming close to Heyward’s level of production.

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Heyward has hit 14 home runs in 105 games, while Alvarez has smashed 10 bombs in just 60 contests. The J-Hey Kid is currently hitting a home run once every 27 at-bats, while Alvarez is averaging one every 21 ABs.

In addition to the home runs, Alvarez is doing an above-average job of driving in runs. The league average for driving in baserunners is 14%. Heyward is at 16%, Alvarez at 18%. An 18% baserunners scored rate rivals that of Evan Longoria, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Miguel Cabrera. If we were to expand his home run and RBI rate over a full season, we would be talking nearly 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Of course, we only have about one-fifth of the season remaining, so full-season projections mean little right now. On the other hand, Alvarez could add another 5-7 home runs, and drive in another 15-20 runs over the final six weeks of the season.

Going back to the Heyward comparison, Hotbox.com says the Braves rookie is owned in 77% of leagues – while Alvarez is owned is less than 5%. If you need some production down the stretch in a deep mixed or NL-only league, make sure you sneak Alvarez onto your roster before the playoffs start.

For more on Pedro Alvarez and other talented rookies flying under the radar, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

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