P3 Episode 17: The Pirates Issues With RISP, Platoons, and Small Ball

Pirates Prospects PodcastEpisode 17 of The Pirates Prospects Podcast can be downloaded or streamed below. This episode includes analysis from Nate Barnes (@NateBarnes_TPN), James Santelli (@JamesSantelli) and myself (@timwilliamsP2) on the Pirates. Highlights of the show include:

**The Pirates went 1-5 in the last week on their six game road trip, but still remain in first place by two games over the St. Louis Cardinals. We review the recent games and how the Pirates looked in those losses. The Pirates won a lot of close games last week, and lost a lot of close games this week. That’s natural, as most teams aren’t going to win every close game.

**A big focus this week due to all of the close losses has been runners in scoring position. I wrote about that Thursday night in First Pitch, getting the input of some of my followers on Twitter on what could be a solution. In the show I ask James and Nate for their input on the problem.

**We talk all year about guys who are going to regress from good numbers to numbers that aren’t as good. In this case, the Pirates have a lot of hitters who you could expect to regress in a positive manner. We also talk about how the word “regression” carries a negative connotation, when in fact it is a neutral word.

**Nate feels that we shouldn’t be looking at the RISP numbers, but numbers such as Leverage Index that focus only on big situations.

**The Pirates have so many hitters in the lineup who can’t hit lefties, which is a big problem because they don’t have as many guys on the bench who can hit lefties. We’ve talked about this problem a lot this year, and that’s a big issue why the offense is struggling for extended periods this year. It’s also not a bad thing to call a player a platoon player.

**Gaby Sanchez draws a lot of criticism, and we discuss why he is so under-rated, and why the Pirates would do well to find a Gaby Sanchez for a few other positions around the field.

**The Pirates have a boom or bust offense that isn’t built for small ball. So why do they keep playing small ball like the seventh inning on Thursday against the Cardinals? I rant for several minutes on why this is a failed strategy.

**The Pirates do have some problems, but ultimately they’ve had those problems all year and they’ve been competitive all year. Their strengths have been much bigger than their weaknesses, and that’s why they’ll remain competitive the rest of the year.

**Music: ‘Let’s Get it Started’ by Oh No Not Stereo. Courtesy of BeatPick.com

Click here to download the show (right-click and “Save Link As”) or stream it below.

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‘Let’s Get it Started’ by Oh No Not Stereo. Courtesy of BeatPick.com

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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  • leadoff

    Might not have so many high leverage situations if they would get hits with RISP earlier in games and learn to add on. I don’t know what the answer is because the situation is very complicated, somewhere between maturity and technique and luck or bad luck. Earlier in the game Walker gets the Sac fly, success. Late in the game he hits a shot down the right field line 2ft foul, than hits a ground ball to the first basemen, failed. If that ball is 2 ft. to the left he looks like a hero and possibly the Pirates win the game. His approach with the fly ball was up the middle, his approach in the last at bat was to go with the pitch. IMO, 2 different approaches. Of course if they hit with RISP during the game and keep on adding on, it does not come down to Walker trying to win it.
    Sometimes you have to look at what the other team is doing to you with the bases loaded and a game ending situation, in the Cards case, the infield is in but so is their outfield, with the same situation the Pirates play the infield in also, but the outfield is in the stands somewhere, when it should be way in, if they hit it where the Pirates outfield is you have no play anyway, if I am managing this team the infield would be in and the outfield would be way in, you have to stop those infield gaps, sort of a softball defense. The Cards approach to high leverage situations means they are going to punch the ball, not hit it to the wall. IMO, I play the odds, how many balls actually get to the wall in a game?

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Tough, tough loss again yesterday….but these type of tough, tense, playoff atmosphere type games (even losses) may pay off down the stretch – as it will not get any easier.

    I was thrilled for Lambo to get that first hit – an impressive one at that – a double off the base of the all in right center. Hopefully, just the first of many more. If he can provide that type of LH hitting down the stretch, and pair up with Tabata, that will be a huge lift.

  • La Pirate

    Plain and simple the Pirates need a couple of better on base/for average type of hitters, guys that are difficult to strike out and can hit to all fields. I cringed when I heard Hurdle bunt Marte to get a fast Josh Harrison to 3rd. We needed the bat as Harrison was already in scoring position. It made no sense.. I would be surprised if we have these platoon situations next year. We need a couple of better hitters(bench and starters) that would complement Cutch, Marte, Walker, and Martin. I am ok with Mercer as he has shown steady improvement. And Harrison should have been on the roster all season and he is improving.. I am anxious to see how Lambo plays out the rest of the year. Its not out of the question that we can win the division but I would be surprised unless the offense rises to the occasion and it really hasnt done that all year.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD

      You maybe right, but with all the seemingly flaws of this team and its manager (according to many fans), they are in first place and have the second best record in baseball. If they had all that we wish they had, they would be the 27 Yankees!

  • befubashi

    Long-time reader, I finally registered.
    I love the site, love the podcasts. But I wish the podcast had a bit more about the minor leagues. I understand that the Pirates winning must be drawing the audience that just wants to hear about the majors, and I enjoy hearing about it too. But listening to the first 15 minutes of the latest podcast, it is all stuff I have heard from you before, and/or is self-evident. I’d rather you cut some of that, and spent a few minutes on the minor league prospects. It has been a few podcasts since you have covered the minors.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      We were doing two podcasts per week earlier in the summer. One was a minor league podcast and one was a major league podcast. It’s hard to record two shows a week, especially during the trade deadline period. Also, there was a period where we didn’t have as many live reports to cover.

      I was planning to bring back the minor league one after the deadline, then the site servers had problems. We’re recording a new minor league show this weekend, and that will be up Wednesday, along with our weekly major league show on Friday.