Pirates Notebook: Nate McLouth Part 2?

Two years ago I wasn’t sold at all on Nate McLouth. From what I could tell there were two camps: one which felt McLouth could be a solid everyday player that should be in the lineup, and another that felt McLouth had some power, but couldn’t hit for average to warrant everyday playing time.

I wasn’t sold on his average, which was .249 in his first three seasons, although I did want him playing over guys like Jeromy Burnitz.

McLouth played a 4th outfielder role in 2005 and 2006, then got more playing time in 2007. He combined for 799 plate appearances in those three seasons, with a .249/.322/.429 line. That’s why it was so surprising that he broke out the next season, hitting for a .276/.356/.497 line.

The Pirates could be going down that road with another outfielder in their system. This outfielder also played as a 4th outfielder in his first two major league seasons. Coincidentally, he was 23 and 24 years old those seasons, the same as McLouth in his first two seasons. This player received an increase in playing time in his third year. So far in 495 plate appearances, this player has a .256/.313/.413 line, very similar to McLouth in his first three years.

So who is this player? None other than our current starting right fielder, Brandon Moss.

It’s only fitting that there are two camps on the future of Moss. One camp feels that he’s nothing more than a fourth outfielder. The other camp feels he can be better than what we’ve seen, and that he’s capable of hitting for more power.

Moss has shown both versions with the Pirates. Last year he hit six homers in 158 at-bats, but only a .222 average. This year he is hitting .265, but only one homer. He’s also hitting .292/.343/.431 since the end of April.

Like McLouth, Moss hasn’t received regular playing time. He was called up for a short period in 2007 with the Red Sox. He was a 4th outfielder in 2008 with Boston, received some playing time with the Pirates, but was shut down early with an injury. Even this year he’s struggled out of the gate and has lost some playing time to the likes of Delwyn Young, Craig Monroe, and Steve Pearce.

I’m not saying Moss will have a breakout year next year, just like we saw from McLouth. What I am saying is that the two careers are very similar so far. Aside from the similar stat lines (and Moss still has about 300 plate appearances to get to what McLouth had), here are some other comparisons:

-Moss hit .282/.359/.485 at AAA. McLouth hit for a .297/.364/.401 line. McLouth had the better average, similar OBP, and Moss had more power.

-Nate is better on the base paths as a stolen base thread, but Moss is better in the field, with a career 12.1 UZR in the outfield, compared to -28.9 for McLouth.

-Moss has a career 19.9% line drive ratio. McLouth has a career 18.5% LD ratio.

-Moss has a 25.1% strikeout ratio, although this year he is down to 19.6%. McLouth was at 22% his first three seasons.

-Moss has a 7.6% walk ratio. McLouth had a 7.5% ratio in his first three years.

Overall, both players have had similar values in their first three seasons. This doesn’t guarantee that Moss will have a breakout year next year. However, the point is that you can’t really close the book on Brandon Moss, especially when he’s seen less than a season’s worth of plate appearances. He could very well be the next Nate McLouth.

Winning Record in Interleague Play

With tonight’s win, the Pirates guarantee a winning record in interleague play, currently 8-6 on the season with only one game remaining. The last time the Pirates had a winning record in interleague play was in the 2001 season when they went 8-7.

Since that point, the Pirates have been atrocious in interleague play, combining for a 29-64 record, which is a .312 winning percentage. Usually interleague play represents the downfall of the season. The Pirates are still alive this year, sitting at 35-39, with a four game winning streak.

How would the Pirates look with their normal .312 interleague winning percentage? They’d currently be 31-43, which would qualify as the fourth worst record in the majors.

Now if we can only find a way to beat those NL Central teams…

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated with yesterday’s win. Here are today’s top performers:

1. Delwyn Young: .272 WPA
2. Paul Maholm: .230
3. Jack Wilson: .101
4. John Grabow: .078
5. Andy LaRoche: .042

Maholm + Diaz = Success

Paul Maholm/Robinzon Diaz didn’t have a good outing last time against Colorado, but I’m not going to put much stock in to that, just like I’m not going to give Jaramillo credit for his one quality start.

Tonight Maholm looked good, going seven innings and allowing two earned runs. The outing actually raised his ERA with Diaz by a few points. Here is the updated CERA chart for all starters:

Prospect Watch

The Prospect Tracker is updated with tonight’s games.

-Tom Gorzelanny had a great outing at AAA tonight. Gorzo struck out 12 batters and walked two in five innings, allowing two unearned runs thanks to a Shelby Ford error. Gorzelanny has pitched 14 innings with 2 earned runs since returning to AAA. For those of you wondering why he wasn’t recalled, my guess is they wanted to get his arm stretched out, after spending a month in the majors as a reliever. He’s certainly looking good as a starter at AAA this year.

-Altoona played a double header tonight. Gorkys Hernandez combined to hit 2 for 6 with a stolen base. Jose Tabata went 1 for 3, walked twice, and was hit by a pitch, reaching base four out of six plate appearances. Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 6 with one strikeout.

-Chase D’Arnaud got his first hits for Lynchburg tonight, going 2 for 5 with a run and two RBIs.

-Robbie Grossman went 0 for 3 with 2 walks. He snapped his seven game hitting streak, but extended his streak to 19 games in a row reaching base safely. Grossman has hits in all but three games this month for West Virginia, and has reached base in 21 of 22 games in that span.

-Tony Sanchez was expected to make his debut in West Virginia tonight, but didn’t play. I’m guessing he will debut tomorrow.

Other Stuff

-John Perrotto brings up a good point about in-season trades being tough on players. We don’t really consider that when players struggle off the bat. Also in this article, the Pirates wanted Charlie Morton in a Jason Bay proposal last year. Apparently the Pirates would have taken Morton, Jeff Locke, Brandon Jones, and Brent Lillibridge for Bay, but the Braves didn’t want to include Morton.

-Ryan Doumit will start his rehab on Tuesda

y, and is shooting for a return just before the All-Star Break, but will probably be back right after the break.

Tim Williams

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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  • hokies416

    Tim: not a comment, just a thanks for the effort on such items as the Nate/Moss comps. Great reading!!!!