Pirates Notebook: Home field advantage

A lot of Pirates fans have to be worried after the recent sweep by the Colorado Rockies. The Pirates should have won two of those games, and could have easily won all three. Instead the Pirates extended their losing streak to four games, and sit at 31-38 on the season.

I don’t see this as anything out of the ordinary.

This season the Pirates are 17-12 at home, but a disappointing 14-26 on the road. It’s not uncommon for a team to be better at home. In fact, only three teams in the majors have road records that are considerably better than their home records. The problem is that the Pirates have one of the worst road records in the league. Only Minnesota, Kansas City, Washington, and San Diego are worse this season.

That problem extends to the performance of the players. Take a look at the rotation splits:

Paul Maholm: 1.83 ERA at home / 6.05 on the road
Zach Duke: 2.77 / 3.64
Ross Ohlendorf: 4.12 / 5.70
Jeff Karstens: 4.18 / 5.45
Ian Snell: 5.00 / 5.12
Team: 3.59 / 4.98

With the exceptions of Duke (who has been solid in both areas) and Snell (who has been equally bad home and away) there is a big difference. Then we’ll look at the hitters (only the guys with 50+ home ABs):

Freddy Sanchez: .325 at home / .313 on the road
Adam LaRoche: .360 / .179
Andy LaRoche: .286 / .277
Brandon Moss: .301 / .238
Jack Wilson: .284 / .257
Nyjer Morgan: .255 / .268
Jason Jaramillo: .327 / .235
Nate McLouth: .319 / .176

Freddy and Andy are good in both areas, which probably explains why they are two of our top hitters so far. Guys like Adam, Moss, Jaramillo, and Wilson are solid at home, but take a huge drop off on the road. Nyjer Morgan is an interesting case, as he actually hits better on the road. I even included Nate McLouth’s stats to show that this isn’t a problem with just the guys who are here now.

Once again, it’s not uncommon for a player to be better at home. I’m not sure how common it is for a whole team to show this level of inconsistency, although I’m sure you’d see the same thing if you checked some of the other bad road teams, like Washington and San Diego.

Fortunately the Pirates have ten home games coming up, and all against teams that are around .500 on the season. The Pirates are 5-1 this month at home, and 4-9 on the road. A nice long home stretch is just what they need to get their record back on track.

As for the season, if the Pirates want to be contenders, or even shoot for a winning season, they need to find some way to win on the road. Until they find a way to win on the road, I’m not going to view them as contenders, much less a team with a chance of a winning season. On the other side of that coin, until they start losing at home, I’m not going to count them out for the year. The loss against Colorado may have been disheartening, but in no means is it the nail in the coffin on the 2009 season.

Draft Picks

Earlier today I updated the Draft Pick Signing Tracker with three signings talked about in this post. As Jim from North Side Notch mentioned in the comments, the Pirates also signed Victor Black (originally reported by Rocco DeMaro on his Twitter page).

The tracker was updated earlier tonight with the signing, although I held out on posting anything, mostly because I was cooking some fish after getting home from the gym. So here are the details on Black:

-He was the #50 ranked prospect according to Baseball America
-This year he had a 4.16 ERA, with a 99:40 K/BB ratio in 88.2 IP
-He throws in the mid-90s, with a 92-94 MPH fastball, topping out at 96
-He’s 6’4″, 204 lbs and right handed

Chuck Finder also reports that sixth round pick Zach Von Rosenberg will be coming to Pittsburgh this week for a “recruiting visit” with the Pirates. ZVR has committed to LSU, and should be a very tough guy to sign. He would be worth it, as he provides a lot of upside, easily one of the best pitchers we drafted. Hopefully the Pirates can get him signed, although I don’t think it will happen this soon.

Prospect Watch

Earlier today I added Chase D’Arnaud, Quinton Miller, and Rudy Owens to the Prospects Tracker. I also mentioned that D’Arnaud will be promoted from West Virginia to Lynchburg.

John Perrotto reports on his Twitter account (@jperrotto) that D’Arnaud will split time between second and short, with Jordy Mercer getting some time at third base. I’d like to see D’Arnaud get as much time at short as possible. We’ve seen Brian Bixler so far in the majors. Brian Friday’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, and his offense has taken a hit. Jordy Mercer has been poor on defense so far, and hasn’t looked good in the games I’ve seen.

D’Arnaud could be our best bet for the shortstop of the future, at least until Jarek Cunningham returns from injury.

-Daniel McCutchen pitched game two of a double header tonight. He went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits with 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, and a homer to get his fifth win of the season.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 6/21 game. Freddy Sanchez holds the lead, with Paul Maholm and Zach Duke trailing. Andrew McCutchen currently is ranked one spot ahead of Nate McLouth, which brings up an interesting stat line. Since the McLouth trade:

McLouth: .269/.338/.463
McCutchen: .333/.366/.538

Of course, there were some who argued that McLouth could have been moved to the corner outfield spots and retained, replacing the Brandon Moss/Delwyn Young combo in right field. The stats for those two players since the trade, in their time in right field:

Moss: .258/.303/.387
Delwyn: .462/.533/.615
Combined: .351/.413/.491

It’s a small sample size, but so far McCutchen has been outplaying McLouth since the trade, and McLouth’s stats since going to Atlanta would be a downgrade compared to the Moss/Delwyn combo. If Moss/Delwyn/Cutch keep this up, and Morton continues to pitch well, we may end up improving this season by dealing McLouth.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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