Recent

0

Black Hole at First

I almost vomited today. I don’t claim to have a long streak without having thrown up. Certainly not as long as Seinfeld claimed in an episode. I’m not sick. I didn’t eat anything disagreeable. I looked at the recent performance of Bucco first baseman and I felt ill.

I was reading Buster Olney’s blog at ESPN.com. He commented on the Adam LaRoche/Mike Gonzalez swap and specifically said (I’m paraphrasing) that getting a power bat at first base is among a GM’s easiest jobs. So, he figured the Braves would be just fine. I’ve commented on this site before about the Reds long drought at first after dealing Tony Perez to Montreal after the 1976 season. They had some good players man first, but nobody with a big stick. So, I went back to 1991 with the Pirates and found out that they too have lacked.

The following table has the league average OPS for NL first baseman for each year followed by what Pirate first baseman as a group did (thank you Retrosheet). The third column lists which Pirate was the primary first sacker that season, based on ABs while playing first, and then lists his OPS+ (for all ABs, not just the ones for when he was playing first). The first two sets of numbers are not adjusted. So park effects (Coors) aren’t adjusted out. OPS+ numbers came from Baseball-Reference.com.

Year Average NL 1B Pirates 1B Primary 1B OPS+
1991 .752 .765 Orlando Merced 120
1992 .765 .661 Orlando Merced 104
1993 .801 .666 Kevin Young 72
1994 .840 .730 Brian Hunter 81
1995 .803 .757 Mark Johnson 94
1996 .814 .822 Mark Johnson 112
1997 .837 .782 Kevin Young 121
1998 .844 .798 Kevin Young 108
1999 .862 .917 Kevin Young 128
2000 .877 .781 Kevin Young 87
2001 .817 .677 Kevin Young 82
2002 .813 .741 Kevin Young 87
2003 .838 .797 Randall Simon 87
2004 .850 .719 Daryle Ward 101
2006 .843 .737 Daryle Ward 88
2006 .879 .782 Sean Casey 102

That, officially, is sad. One season with an OPS+ of 125 or better and just two seasons in the past six where the OPS+ of the primary first baseman was even over 100. So, I decided to go back and see what a typical Willie Stargell year was like. I was stopped in my tracks by Stargell’s 1980 season. He was 40. He had bad legs. And his OPS+ was 130, granted in only 202 ABs. But that was a bad year for him, OPS+-wise. I certainly don’t expect any team to put a top flight, multiple year All-Star at first every year. But, I should expect that at least sometime in the past 16 years that one year the Pirates first basemen (collectively) out perform a gimpy 40 year whose skills were eroding quickly. Didn’t happen. Here’s hoping that in 2007 LaRoche can best a 40 year old Pops.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #8

Next Story »

Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #9

Latest Analysis

  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    13 hours ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    1 day ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    3 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    5 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    6 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    6 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More