ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 29: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second inning run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on April 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
What Pedro Alvarez has done over the past week or so has been fantastic, and he has certainly eased fears about his being ... what's the best phrase to describe it? Spectacularly incompetent? Freakishly terrible? The worst major-league hitter I've ever seen? In his recent hot streak, he's shown little of the bizarre tentativeness that characterized the first two weeks of his season (and Spring Training), and all the impressive-looking homers he's hitting speak for themselves. For now, Alvarez is the Pirates' third baseman, and we can all feel cautiously optimistic about that.
Unfortunately, that's about all we can feel. Alvarez was terrible in 2011, and even after (or in the midst of, hopefully) his hot streak, his 2012 numbers are still underwhelming. The .525 slugging percentage is great, but the .203 batting average and .241 OBP are horrible. Some of those numbers are due in part to a low BABIP. But Alvarez also has 23 strikeouts and three walks, and that basic trend hasn't changed in his hot streak. Is that sustainable? Alvarez appears to have made some adjustments after his rough start, but his approach at the plate still appears to be unsound, and there's a chance opposing pitchers could adjust back. There's also the fact that most players look great when they're hitting well and terrible when they're hitting poorly. Would it shock anyone if Alvarez were to completely vanish again tomorrow, or next week?
To be honest, based on what I saw in Spring Training and in the first couple weeks of the season, I'm very surprised Alvarez is where he is right now. I thought his problems were so fundamental that a hot streak like this probably would have been impossible so soon. I'm happy to have been wrong about that. But let's wait to see Alvarez do this for more than a week or two before we break out the champagne.