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Pedro Alvarez going for the NL home run crown in Pirates’ meaningless regular season finale

Sep 29, 2013, 11:20 AM EDT

pedro alvarez getty Getty Images

The Pirates (93-68) cannot move up or down from their current position as the host of the National League Wild Card Game, so Sunday afternoon’s regular season finale at the Reds’ Great American Ball Park is essentially meaningless and most of Pittsburgh’s regulars are getting the day off.

But not all of them will be on the massage tables.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday morning that Pedro Alvarez is starting at third base and batting cleanup so that he can have a shot at the National League home run title. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is currently tied with Alvarez at 36 homers and Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is the next-closest to those two with 30.

The rest of the Bucs’ starting lineup for Game 162, courtesy of MLB.com’s Tom Singer:

  1. cohnjusack - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    36 home runs would have ranked 14th in the league in 2001.
    Man, that was a silly time for baseball.

  2. cohnjusack - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    The last time an NL player lead the league with 36 home runs or fewer: Fred McGriff, 1992
    The last time an AL player lead the league with 36 home runs or fewer: Fred McGriff, 1989

  3. paperlions - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    HR-wise, this year has been really similar to 2011, when only 2 guys hit > 40 and the MLB leader only had 43….but it is amazing that in the NL, 27 gets you tied for 4th….amazing what adding a bunch of pitchers parks can do to league HR rates.

    • genericcommenter - Sep 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Yep. It’s crazy how hitter-friendly those parks were in the mid 90s-00s.

    • Reflex - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      At least someone else understands that ‘juiced baseball that magically became unjuiced in 2004′ really isn’t the best explanation.

      • paperlions - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        Of course, offense did NOT decline after steroids testing began in 2004…it didn’t even go down in 2005 or 2006.

        Offense magically jumped in the middle of 1993….I suppose you think the MLBPA had a mid-season meeting and handed out steroids to everyone

      • Reflex - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        No, I believe that through the 90′s a series of ballparks were built, of those only one was a pitchers park and the rest were neutral to extreme hitters parks, often replacing pitchers parks. Combined with a general dilution of talent due to two expansion drafts you saw a rise of offense throughout the league. A new baseball may or may not have contributed to this, but it was unlikely to be the only or even main factor(I’d point to the ballparks).

        Starting in 2001, parks that were built were almost entirely pitchers parks with only a couple of notable exceptions(new Yankee stadium for instance). More than a third of the league parks were replaced, and often the replacement was an extreme from the previous design(for instance going from hitter friendly Kingdome to super pitcher friendly Safeco Field).

        Combined with increased drug testing(I believe drugs only had a minimal effect, but they did have some), better international scouting bringing in talent that started to negate the effects of expansion and the increased rise of advanced metrics to evaluate players and inform strategy saw the offense go down substantially ever since.

        I have seen no evidence that over the past decade the ball changed, meaning that even if they did juice the ball in the early 90′s, it was not ‘unjuiced’ at some point and the drop in offense would be unlikely if such a change in the 90′s was attributed in a large part due to a change in the ball.

        Its possible it happened, its unlikely to account for all or even much of the offensive output however.

  4. Marcus - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Pedro hit #36 yesterday actually, so he’s tied with Goldschmidt right now for the HR crown.

    • joelgold - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      How can Drew write about this and get the most important stat wrong?

      • Drew Silva - Sep 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        Yikes, that was bad. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. coloradogolfcoupons - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Looks like Selig, after reading this, has formed a committee to see if he can make steroids MANDATORY for hitters

  6. florida76 - Sep 29, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    The improvement of Pedro Alvarez isn’t really a surprise, and he is surprisingly nimble defensively as well. Has one of the strongest arms at his position as well. Whatever happened to those critics like Jim Callis and J.J. Cooper who were calling Alvarez a draft bust early last year? LOL

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