Remember when Pedro Álvarez was terrible in spring training? Remember when Álvarez was batting around .200 in April? And May, and June? And a lot of bright boys were wondering why Álvarez was playing in the majors at all?*
Turns out yeah, he's probably a major leaguer.
After going hitless on the 15th of June, his line for the season was .189/.254/.373, not really acceptable for any every-day player who's not a Gold Glove shortstop. Since then, though? He's got a .296/.387/.579 line; essentially, for the last two-and-a-half months Pedro Álvarez has somehow become Jose Bautista.
Tuesday night, he hit two home runs against the Cardinals. Here are clips of both; pay special attention to the second blast, reportedly the longest hit by a Pirate in PNC Park's 13 seasons ...
Álvarez now has 25 home runs, more than any other third baseman in the National League. Somehow, Pedro Álvarez has become the hitter the Pirates thought they were getting when they made him the second player selected in the 2008 amateur draft.
Yes, the Pirates could have instead drafted Buster Posey. But when you look at the rest of the first-round picks in that draft, it's hard to avoid concluding that the Pirates did pretty well ... if this most recent version of Pedro Álvarez is the Pedro Álvarez of the Future.
Which he might be. Or he might not be. Either way, it's pretty obvious that he does belong in the major leagues. And this is the point where I must admit that I was one of those bright boys who thought, back in the spring, that Pedro Álvarez did not belong in the majors. That there was probably something wrong with him, physically or mentally, and either way he wouldn't fix that while toiling against the world's best pitchers.
I was wrong, and management was right. The Pirates might not make the playoffs this season. Probably won't. But they probably will finish with their first winning season in two decades. And when they do, Pedro Álvarez will have been one of their two or three best players.
Sometimes you just gotta let 'em play.