The Debate:Target Pedro Alvarez over Mike Moustakas

Justin K. Aller

Here is part one of a two part Point-Counterpoint piece where I argue for drafting Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez over Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

I ranked Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez as my 14th ranked fantasy third baseman for 2013, two spots ahead of Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. If I had to a chance to re-rank them, I would probably rank Alvarez a few spots higher, in the 11-12 range, as I like the power potential, and the fact that there is room for him to improve at the plate.

I ranked Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas as my 16th ranked fantasy third baseman for 2013, and love his power potential, but I would rather target Alvarez over Moustakas in 2013. Let's take a closer look at their career stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Pedro Alvarez

2010 23 95i 347 42 89 21 1 16 64 37 119 .256 .326 .461 .788 112 160
2011 24 74 235 18 45 9 1 4 19 24 80 .191 .272 .289 .561 58 68
2012 25 149 525 64 128 25 1 30 85 57 180 .244 .317 .467 .784 117 245
3 Yrs 318 1107 124 262 55 3 50 168 118 379 .237 .311 .427 .738 103 473
162 Game Avg. 162 564 63 133 28 2 25 86 60 193 .237 .311 .427 .738 103 241
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/10/2012.

Alvarez had a solid debut season in 2010, hitting .256 with 16 HRs, 42 runs and 64 RBI in 95 games, quieting some of his critics who felt he would struggle at the big league level. Fantasy owners went gaga over his power potential, hyping him heading into 2011 fantasy drafts. What followed was nothing short of a horrendous season from Alvarez, earning him a demotion to AAA to work on some things at the plate. After his 2011 season, we heard that the Pirates were tinkering with his swing, asking him to go the other way more. That didn't work.

So, Alvarez entered the 2012 season as an afterthought on draft day. He probably went undrafted in some mixed leagues, making his way onto rosters as an injury replacement. While he will never confuse Pirates fans and fantasy owners with Bill Madlock, he has crazy power, and it was on display in 2012. Alvarez hit .244-.317-.467 with 30 HRs, 64 runs, and 85 RBI in 149 games last season. I didn't see a 30 home run season from him in 2012, but the power was always there. He struggled to make adjustments in his sophomore season, like so many others have in the past.

Does Alvarez strike out too much. Yes. But he can take a walk, as his walk rates over the last three years indicate - 9.6%/ 9.2%/ 9.7%. As a result, he is becoming the third base version of Adam Dunn, a Three True Outcome hitter at the hot corner. He balances the high strikeout/low batting average with excellent power, and I think there is more power coming. But, one area of concern is his 25% HR/FB rate last season, which ranked behind only Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilton and Chris Davis. We will soon learn if that was a fluke, or if he indeed owns the high HR/FB rate and puts it on display year in and year out.

Mike Moustakas

2011 89 338 26 89 18 1 5 30 22 51 .263 .309 .367 .675 86 124
2012 149 563 69 136 34 1 20 73 39 124 .242 .296 .412 .708 93 232
2 Yrs 238 901 95 225 52 2 25 103 61 175 .250 .301 .395 .696 90 356
162 Game Avg. 162 613 65 153 35 1 17 70 42 119 .250 .301 .395 .696 90 242
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/10/2012.

Moustakas had a decent rookie season in the big leagues in 2011, but did not hit for much power, as he hit .263-.309-.367 with 5 HRs, 26 runs, and 30 RBI in 338 at bats. Heading into 2012 fantasy drafts, owners were counting on more power from Moustakas, and while he did hit 20 home runs with 34 doubles, his .412 slugging percentage was disappointing. He is two years removed from hitting 36 home runs at two levels of the minors, so more power is expected in 2013.

Unlike Alvarez, he doesn't strike out a lot for a power hitter, as his 20.2% strikeout rate shows, but he doesn't walk as much as you would like (6.4%) either. His power is untapped at this point, and he will have to improve in that category to prevent the "bust" label from being thrown his way in 2013.

As you can see, I am higher on Alvarez than I am on Moustakas, and there is one main reason. Alvarez has now power, having already shown his impressive power potential at the highest level. I like Moustakas, but, as I stated earlier, his power is still untapped. But the question is when will he put that power on full display for all to see? Fantasy owners are hoping the answer to that question is 2013, but when given the choice on draft day, take the guy who has already shown the power over the guy with potential. Sometimes that is hard to do, especially after reading dreamy projections from your favorite fantasy writers across the net.

You can look for the Counterpoint piece recommending targeting Moustakas over Alvarez tomorrow.

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