McCutchen is seeing over 10 percent more pitches per plate apperance this season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

First Pitch: Meet the New Season, Same As the Old Season

The Pittsburgh Pirates were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, dropping them to 6-6, and a .500 record for the first time since April 19th of last season. While looking that up, I noticed the Pirates also started off 6-6 last year. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of other trends that have been similar this year. Let’s take a look.


2014: 6-6

2013: 6-6

Run Differential

2014: 44 scored, 43 allowed

2013: 40 scored, 47 allowed

The offense has scored more runs this year, and the pitching staff has allowed fewer runs. The latter is probably due to there being no Jonathan Sanchez in the rotation. The former isn’t a significant jump, and the Pirates are still a pretty weak offense, currently tied for 24th in baseball with the Rays in runs scored. That’s not a big surprise, since they looked to be building on pitching and defense once again this season.


2014: 4-2 Home, 2-4 Road

2013: 4-2 Home, 2-4 Road

Andrew McCutchen

2014: .707 OPS

2013: .833 OPS

McCutchen struggled in April last year, but most of that came in the second half of the month. He dropped down to a season-low .654 OPS on April 29th, then exploded in the month of May and never looked back. I’d expect the same this year.

Travis Snider

2014: .789 OPS

2013: .819 OPS

Snider had a good month of April, finishing with a .799 OPS. Things fell apart for him in May, and never really recovered until his pinch-hitting performances in September. So while he’s off to a good start so far this year, I’ll be waiting to see what he’s doing a month from now.

The Similarities

I think what we can take away from this is that two weeks of baseball really tells us nothing. I don’t think anyone is predicting 94 wins for the Pirates right now, based on this current start. But the Pirates won 94 games last year with a start that was similar, if not slightly worse. Does this mean they’re going to win 94 again this year? Unlikely. It just means that there’s only so much the first two weeks of the season can tell you.

Links and Notes

**Week In Review: Gregory Polanco is On Fire; More Minor League Injuries

**Prospect Watch: Irwin and Rodriguez Have Bad Starts, Polanco Continues Streak

**Minor League Schedule: Sadler Looks To Repeat Success

**Update on Luis Heredia’s Shoulder

**Draft Prospect Watch: Jake Stinnett Makes Huge Jump From Last Year

**Prospect Highlights: Gregory Polanco’s Second Homer of the Year

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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, 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.

Week In Review: Gregory Polanco is On Fire; More Minor League Injuries

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Prospect Highlights: More Speed and Defense From Gregory Polanco

  • emjayinTN

    Tim: Only major difference is that we felt good to be at .500 in 2013, but it is sort of an empty feeling in 2014. 14 wins will win the month of April. I wonder how long the leash is on Jordy Mercer? Can we get some innings for Pimental? Starling Marte had 25 Walks in 510 AB’s last year and he has 6 already in 49 AB’s – can he get to 50 Walks in 2014? When we get starts like we got from Volquez Saturday, we have to win the game. The month of June may bring more changes than just Gregory Polanco. Anybody else doing well at AAA? Has Alen Hanson made an error yet? He has always been a hitter although he is struggling a little this year, but if he can put the glove and bat together, he will be promoted to AAA in May or June.

    • emjayinTN

      C’mon folks, I lobbed a FAT pitch right down the middle and got absolutely nothing – the answer to the “Anybody else doing well at AAA”? was a lead-in for the Andrew Lambo bandwagon, and it would have been well deserved. IC Bob got close. Just because he struggled in ST is no reason to think he cannot be the regular 1B for years to come for the Pirates – he went from 0’fer to high .300’s with 3 doubles, a triple, 6 RBI’s and 3 SB’s in about a week, and has not made an error as yet. If he keeps it up while Ish is doing his best to hit .225, he may be riding the same bus to Pittsburgh with Gregory Polanco in June. He seems to have re-connected with his belief in his ability to hit – thank you Mike Pagliarulo. More work to lock it in and I am hoping that the 1st HR he hits in 2014 is to CF or LC.

      • Andrew

        triple slash line .297/.383/.450, for the league that is 2nd/1st/1st, so a better question would be who is hitting poorly. If Lambo hits at AAA, the Pirates have learned nothing new, that said I hope he does well and makes it back to the MLB because Ishikawa is not the answer to anything.

  • johndw28

    I know it’s early but I’m a bit concerned with Mercer and am wondering if his 2013 season was flash in pan with bat and his glove is average at best. I think the Melancon/Grilli 8, 9th inning roles must be redefined. I hope Bryan Morris gets more leverage situations as well as Wilson and Watson, regardless if they are lefties.

  • CalipariFan506

    Ya defense is my biggest concern so far.
    That and we’ll have to try to win 90+ games by going 0-9 at Miller Park. That is the other major difference I’ve seen so far.

  • Lee Young

    Tim…..all good points. Definitely no need to panic.

    • IC Bob

      I agree that there is no need to panic but it isn’t to early to look at issues brewing. 1B is a problem right now and it shows up bigger when our stars are under performing. Mercer needs to give us a more then he has. I thought that was a spot we could have addressed this off season but we chose not to. Team is really in need of another middle of the order bat. I cringe every time I see Martin batting 5th. He is a great catcher but if he hits 240 I would be surprised. He would be an awesome 7 hitter.

  • piraddict

    It’s too early in the season to get depressed over one series sweep. I think I recall the Pirates sweeping the Cards once last season and the Cards ended up doing okay. Mercer will play better (he could hardly play worse). But one or two players aren’t to blame. The whole team is hitting below expectations right now. But that’s baseball. The Brewers will cool down as the season progresses as well. That’s what is nice about a 162 game season. Polanco’s arrival in June should change the look of the lineup in a major way, he could produce Byrd like numbers or better. So there is a lot a reason for hope.

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