First Pitch

First Pitch: Looking Deeper at the Black Hole at the Bottom of the Lineup

First Pitch: Looking Deeper at the Black Hole at the Bottom of the Lineup

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas over the off-season, looking at each player for values other than offense. So far on the season, both players have put up some horrible offensive numbers. Yet each is getting playing time. Barmes is getting playing time because of his defense. His 17.5 UZR/150 leads all qualified major league shortstops. Barajas is getting time mostly for his ability to work well with the pitching staff. UZR isn't perfect, but it's the best attempt at quantifying defense. It's nearly impossible to quantify a catcher's relationship with the staff, as most stats on the subject (CERA, for example) are untrustworthy.

The trade off for the defense and the work with the pitchers is that on most occasions, the Pirates have what amounts to three pitchers batting at the bottom of the order. Heading in to Saturday's game, Barmes had hit in the 7-9 spots in 112 out of the Pirates' 143 games. Barajas had hit in the 7-9 spots in 80 of the 143 games this ...

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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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