Beast or Bust: Vol. 2
Pedro Alvarez – Pirates – 3B
Stats as of 5/10: .216 AVG, 7 HR, 13 RUNS, 15 RBI, 0 SB
This section on Alvarez would have been a lot more effective if I had posted this column earlier this week like I originally planned, as he’s now in the midst of a 0-for-15 slump that I saw coming. Newsflash: Pedro Alvarez is not a different hitter. He’s the same guy who struck out in 30.5% of his at-bats last season. In fact, he’s at 30.6% this season. He’ll flash some power on the rare occasion he makes contact, but won’t hit enough homers to make him worth hurting you in every other category. People who think he’s actually a mixed league option are just flat out wrong. Don’t be surprised when he’s sent down to the minors.
Verdict: BUST (.208 AVG, 16 HR, 44 RUNS, 53 RBI, 2 SB)
Bryan LaHair – Cubs – 1B/OF
Stats as of 5/10: .384 AVG, 8 HR, 14 RUNS, 18 RBI, 0 SB
Sure, Bryan LaHair is setting the world on fire right now, and good for him. But he’s doing it with a .510 BABIP and a 36.4% HR/FB ratio that look like typos I’ve made. I assure you, they’re not. There are reasons LaHair is 29-years-old and only now getting a shot in the majors: he strikes out a lot, and can’t hit a curveball. That’s not to say he doesn’t belong in a big league lineup. He has great ball-strike recognition and his BABIP in the minor leagues was consistently above .330, indication that a high BABIP for him isn’t as much of a fluke for him as it would be for others. Still, his numbers now are unsustainable, and you can expect him to fall back to earth and join the mortals once more.
Verdict: BUST(sort of) (.278 AVG, 21 HR, 72 RUNS, 79 RBI, 1 SB)
Lance Lynn – Cardinals – SP/RP
Stats as of 5/10: 6 W, 37 K, 1.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
There are two big differences between this Lance Lynn and the Lance Lynn who struggled in AAA 2 years ago. One is that he’s added a 2-seam fastball, making his flat 4-seamer much harder to sit on for hitters. The other is that he’s worked on his circle change and is now using it about 3 times more often than he used to, using it very effectively against lefties. These weapons have allowed him to maintain a K/9 rate of 8.61 so far season, a marginal drop off from his rate as a relief pitcher last year. Three more factors that work in his favor are out of his control. One, his team is very very good, and should continue to contribute to a high win total. Two, his home ballpark is much more pitcher friendly than most people realize. Three, Chris Carpenter is nowhere close to returning. And even if Carpenter does make it back at some point this season, Lynn will already have established himself as a very capable #2 starter, meaning it’s someone else who will be bumped from the rotation.
Verdict: BEAST (18 W, 205 K, 2.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Today’s must-watch game: LAA @ TEX, 8:05pm ET. C.J. Wilson makes his first start against his former team in Arlington, where he’ll be facing Yu Darvish, who’s a must-see every time he takes the mound.