Feb 26, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) works out prior to the game against the New York Yankees at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: Pirates' Pedro Alvarez cracks Top 10 in 3B Rankings

There’s always that lingering question among Fantasy Baseball owners of where to value the player that can hit you a ton of home runs and drive inn a ton of runs but practically kill you in terms of batting average.

Oct 7, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) points skyward after hitting a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 8th inning in game four of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The first name that comes to mind when discussing this type of player is Pittsburgh Pirates’ third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

“El Toro” hit a career-high 36 home runs in 2013, but he also struck out a career-high 186 times and posted a .296 on-base percentage. However, Alvarez was one of the Pirates’ top performers in the NLDS against St. Louis, batting .353 with a .421 on-base percentage, .941 slugging percentage, 1.362 OPS, three home runs and six RBI in five games.

The key to Alvarez success is him becoming a better-rounded offensive player.

Keep this in mind when discussing Alvarez. Despite last year being his fourth season in the majors, it was only his second full season in the big leagues and covering the Pirates every day for a living, the progress he has made since he first was promoted is outstanding.

Heck, the progress he made as a hitter from June on last year was outstanding.

There are both positives and negatives surrounding a guy like Alvarez.

If you draft him, you will reap the rewards if you surround yourself with a couple of high average guys.

His .233 batting average or his 186 strikeouts are an excuse to exclude Alvarez from the top-five third basemen. However, the stats are there and this kid can seriously hit for power.

Alvarez was tied for the National League-lead last season with 36 long balls to go along with a gaudy .473 Slugging Percentage. He even added 100 RBIs to his All-Star campaign, which was tied for fifth-best in the NL. These are some serious power numbers.

Despite his lack of attention, Alvarez has now clubbed 66 homers in the last two seasons, which is 13 more than 3B David Wright has hit over the past three seasons combined.

His home run rate of 26 percent (second behind Chris Davis) is supported by 106 Speed of Ball off bat. However very poor contact rate (66%) and poor Clutch factor (-1.3) leave both Batting average and RBI totals at chance. His struggles against LHP is awful (.286 slg vs .534 RHP slug), and should be accounted for.

But Alvarez could be a value pick at the hot corner this fantasy season and he will be one of the best options to grab in the middle of the draft. He obviously won’t hit for average, as he has a career .235 average, but he should have no problem finishing the 2014 season with another 25-plus homers.

His ADP is currently 79.8, which may be a little high, but his power legitimately makes him one of the top handful of third basemen in the game.

At the end of the day, there is a lot to like about El Toro. He has huge power, he hits in the middle of an order that got much better in 2013, and he fills a vital position on fantasy squads.

There is also plenty to worry about if he’s on your team. His plate discipline numbers are all heading in the wrong direction. He’s the ultimate high-risk/high-reward player.

It all depends on how your team is looking when he is on the board, but if you are comfortable with a .235 AVG/35 HR/95 RBI season I am projecting, Alvarez could be a guy to provide you decent value.

With that being said let’s take a look at my recent 3B Rankings.

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Tags: Fantasy Baseball Fantasy Baseball Rankings Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates

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