As someone noted on a board that I frequent, after going 0-5 with a pair of whiffs against Milwaukee last night, Pedro Alvarez’ batting average has dropped below the Mendoza Line again. He had a ten game stretch at the end of April/beginning of May that gave everyone some hope after he started off terribly. He had a hitting streak that lasted six games at the end of May. He was moved to the fourth spot in the order back on May 5th. Of his next 23 starts, 22 were in the four slot in the lineup. Over that time (including one pinch hitting appearance), he has put up a .145/.233/.241 line with one homer and nine RBI. Everyone wants this guy to do well and the immediate future of the organization rests heavily up on the shoulders of Pedro and Andrew McCutchen. If there is another young, developing power threat in the high minors, I’m unaware of him. Pedro has to come through or a power bat has to be acquired or something completely unforeseen with a minor leaguer has to happen.
As it stands right now, Pedro has struck out 58 times and has 31 hits. That’s 1.87 whiffs for every hit. It seems like a high number to me. So, I checked it out on baseball-reference.com. I’m not concerned about a high K rate so long as he gets on base at a decent clip and slugs. But my concern is what happens when your number of whiffs greatly eclipses your number of safeties.
In the history of baseball, there have been just twelve seasons where a player collected 50 or more hits while striking out at a rate that was 1.8 times or higher than his hit total. Not surprisingly, eight of the twelve have happened in the last 25 years and all but one have happened in the divisional play era. Here is the list with pertinent stats, including their career strikeout to hit ratios.
This group falls into three broad categories: guys getting established who went on to have high strikeout rates (Schmidt, Kingman, Palmer, Reynolds), late career downturns of players who whiffed a lot (Jackson, McGwire) and players with high strikeout rates whose high water (low water) mark for contact happened mid-career (Hall, Dunn, Deer).
The scary names on here are Nicholson, Nieves, Hall and Branyan (and to some extent, Deer). Those guys never established themselves as viable every day players for a very long stretch.
Right now Pedro is on pace for 99 hits and 185 whiffs. I’m concerned about the power hitting future of this team. It’s Pedro or Bust for this club. Pedro has not gotten off to a particularly good start to his career. Hopefully, he can get it turned around.