First Pitch: No One Is Hitting, Let’s Over-React
It was almost one year ago today that I wrote this article. The Pirates had played seven games, getting off to a 2-5 start. They had been shut out twice, and only scored more than two runs in one of those games. So far, the 2013 season looks to be starting off like the 2012 season. Horrible offense and great pitching. Somehow always getting the best pitchers a team has to offer. Having the hardest rated schedule in the early part of the season. Because of the similarities, I thought I’d give last year’s article and update for this year. The crossed out parts reflect the old, and the bold reflects the new. Everything else remains the same, including the title. And obviously the links and notes that follow. Although coincidentally the Pirates also got shutout when I wrote last year’s article, and Jameson Taillon had a great start that night, just like he did tonight. So obviously we’re in for a summer where the Pirates have a horrible offense for the first two months, have the best offense for the next two months, collapse down the stretch, all while Jameson Taillon is amazing in his first seven starts, struggles for the next two months, then is great down the stretch, including three strong starts after a late season promotion to Indianapolis.
Looking over some of the stat lines for the Pirates in the early part of the season is not advised. Some of the hitting numbers are just horrible. In fact,
almost all of the hitting numbers are horrible. Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee are the only The Pirates have no hitters with good numbers , and Michael McKenry if you count the 1.262 OPS he has in six at-bats. Outside of those three, the numbers are horrible. Breaking down the guys with double digit at-bats plate appearances:
.048 average / .139 OPS .125 average / .388 OPS Rod Barajas: .059 / .176 Russell Martin: .000 / .176
.063 / .313 .111 / .222
.143 / .357 .154 / .308
.105 / .413 .167 / .500 Jose Tabata: .190 / .418 Starling Marte: .211 / .461 Alex Presley: .269 / .538 Gaby Sanchez: .077 / .277
Andrew McCutchen: .235 / .669
Some of those numbers are so bad that they make
Presley’s .538 OPS look amazing Clint Barmes look like a good hitter. Overall, we’re still in the “small sample size” period of the season. The sample hasn’t been good, but it’s hardly a substantial amount of at-bats to make a sound opinion. Alex Presley leads Russell Martin and Starling Marte lead the team with 26 at-bats 20 plate appearances. Only three other players have 20+ at-bats more than 15 plate appearances. That’s not stopping people from over-reacting to the early season numbers I don’t really know how much of a reaction the Pirates are getting. It seems like it’s either “here we go again” or the normal reaction you’d get to such a bad offense. But honestly, my brother is in town this weekend, and I rarely get to see him, so I wasn’t spending much time on Twitter while we watched the game. Pedro Alvarez should be in Triple-A. Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes should be on the bench. Garrett Jones should be cut. Neil Walker…well, he’s from Pittsburgh, so we’ll ignore the fact that he’s the worst hitter on the team. (I feel like this always still applies. It was Pedro Alvarez, after all, who cost the Pirates on Thursday with his strikeout. Forget that Walker followed with a game ending double play.)
This gets said all the time, but if this happened in the middle of June, no one would notice. It’s a week’s worth of stats. It happens all throughout the season. One bad week doesn’t result in changes in June, so it shouldn’t have the same effect now. And really, what solutions are there?
As an example, what would happen if you sent Pedro Alvarez down? Maybe you replace him with Casey McGehee, but who plays first base? The people calling for Alvarez are the same people calling for Jones. And they’re probably ignoring the poor numbers by Matt Hague in the process. You’re still in a situation where one of your starters at the corners is putting up poor numbers. Only now you’ve got Alvarez in Triple-A, where he doesn’t get the chance to learn how to hit major league pitching in the majors. We don’t have people calling for Alvarez to be sent down this year, and no one is suggesting Garrett Jones be released. Part of that is probably because we saw how things turned out last year. The Pirates will get out of this and play better, but that doesn’t make the start of the season and the horrible offense for the second year in a row less frustrating.
The reasonable thing to do would be to allow more time for a better sample size to emerge. At this point, suggesting that a player be sent down is about as ridiculous as suggesting that
McGehee should be extended due to his .313 average and .875 OPS in 16 at-bats Starling Marte should be extended for having two hits tonight. Maybe we should save the transactions for when we get to the point where we’re not talking about a week’s worth of at-bats.
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide and the 2013 Annual are both available on the products page of the site. If you order them together, you’ll save $5. Get them both to use throughout the 2013 season.