Math has never been my strong suit, but according to my rough calculations, Pedro Alvarez has stroked six homers in the Pirates' first 23 games. Projecting that over a full season, it works outs to around 37.
Of course that number is deceiving because while he only hit one in his first 12 games, he's hit five in the 11 games since. Assuming he continued to hit at that pace, he'd wind up with around 70, which is totally unrealistic.
That said, even if you agree he won't be near as good as he's been the past two weeks but still better than he was when he was struggling early on, Pedro is comfortably on pace for around 40 bombs this year.
Which brings me to my question. Which would you rather see this season, the Pirates break the losing streak or Pedro hit 40 homers?
Ideally, of course, both could happen -- especially since the two are interrelated. I'm sure we'd all be just as happy, too, if Pedro hit 38 or 39 homers as long as the team ends up with a winning record. But for purposes of this discussion, let's assume it's a choice between Pedro hitting 40 but we lose 100 games or hitting 20 and the streak ends.
Would you make that deal? I honestly think I'd rather see the home runs than the wins at this point because of what Pedro's bat represents to this franchise.
I made a similar argument in an earlier thread, but it boils down to this -- the Pirates have an interesting cast of complementary position players already, with more on the way over the next couple of years. Even more important, they have three or four potentially dominant arms, as well as a number of other pretty good ones, in the pipeline.
What they lack, however, is a truly dominant bat. And without that, they could break .500 but they're never going to be a real contender again. Simply put, Pedro was drafted to be our Willie Stargell, the guy opposing teams have to pitch around five times a game. If he can't, it changes the whole dynamic of the franchise.
Bashers like that don't grow on trees. You either have to:
- trade for one, which would mean dealing away at least one of our untouchable arms;
- sign one as a free agent, which would cost more money than the Pirates have; or,
- cultivate another, and the closest thing the Pirates currently have in the minors is Josh Bell, who was years away even before injuring his knee.
As tired as we all are of losing, I think most of us see the bigger picture -- and Pedro's role in it. If he's a bust, no amount of smoke and mirrors can take this team to a World Series. But if he's finally starting to figure things out, the sky is the limit.