If you keep watching the Pirates for the next few years, you should expect the hits to keep coming. I’m talking about the amount of batters being hit during Pirates’ games and it’s mostly due to the philosophy of pitching inside the organization preaches in the minors. With Andrew McCutchen getting hit twice by Matt Garza on Saturday night, now is a time to look back at a subject we covered here during the season. Back in August, we took a look at the high amount of hit batters by pitchers in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. It was a popular topic back in 2013 as well, when we noticed the high amount of hit batters by the pitchers representing almost every affiliate in the organization.
The Pirates teach their minor league pitchers how to effectively throw inside and the only way to do that is by pitching inside often, which of course leads to more batters being hit. A lot of time when you watch minor league pitchers, they will get two strikes and then nibble on the outside corner to try to get batters chasing. That usually leads to higher pitch counts, but the idea is that if you miss outside, it’s usually not a big deal. If you miss inside and hit someone, you’re putting on a hitter that you already had two strikes on. If you miss the other way, you leave it over the middle of the plate. So with that thinking, you will find a lot of pitchers hesitant to throw inside. The Pirates encourage their pitchers to throw inside and they have the numbers to prove it.
The pitchers at Indianapolis this year finished with 70 hit batters, 15 more than the second highest team total in the International League. Their own batters were hit 53 times, which was one of the highest totals in the league.
Altoona finished with 70 hit batters as well, leading the Eastern League by seven over second place. Curve batters were hit 44 times, one of the lower totals in the league and obviously well below the amount their pitchers hit.
Bradenton also had a huge difference in hit batters between their pitchers and hitters. The pitchers led the Florida State League with 71 HBP, four more than the nearest team. Their batters were hit just 40 times.
Down at West Virginia, the pitching staff embraced the pitching inside technique better than any other affiliate. Some wildness also had something to do with their 93 hit batters. Their batters also got some bruises with 81 HBP. The Power were the leaders among pitchers and second among hitters in the league.
Jamestown led the league with 62 hit batters in just 75 games. Their own batters were hit 41 times.
Bristol didn’t lead the league, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. With 54 hit batters in 68 games, they finished with the second highest total and well ahead of their own 35 batters hit.
That basically tells you that the Pirates hit a lot of batters when all four of their full-season teams(plus Jamestown) led the league in hit batters. You can also see that besides West Virginia, there was a sizable difference in how many of their own hitters were plunked. When you go further down, you get more new pitchers in the organization so not every pitcher has embraced pitching inside yet. Both the DSL and GCL teams finished near the middle of the pack in hitting batters and had slightly less totals for their own hitters. All eight affiliates finished with more hit batters on the pitching side and some totals obviously weren’t even close.
The leaders for each team were:
Josh Kinney(10) with Indianapolis, which is interesting because he pitched strictly in relief and he was second in the league behind Brad Lincoln, who of course, pitched for years under the current regime.
Altoona was led by Zack Dodson and Ryan Beckman with nine apiece, tying them for fourth in the league.
Chad Kuhl led Bradenton, the Florida State League and all Pirates minor league pitchers with 15 hit batters.
Cody Dickson led West Virginia and the South Atlantic League with 13 batters hit.
Miguel Rosario finished as the league leader for Jamestown and the NYPL with nine hit batters. Both Marek Minarik and Jerry Mulderig had seven hit batters, tying them for the second highest total in the league.
Bristol was led by Junior Lopez and Angel Sanchez, each with seven. Sanchez isn’t in the organization anymore, getting released at the same time the Pirates picked up Altoona pitcher Angel Sanchez off waivers. I’m sure that was just a coincidence, but odd none the less.
Reliever Carlos Ruiz led the GCL Pirates in hit batters. While he is a reliever, it’s not surprising to see someone in their fifth year in the organization leading the team in hit batters, as opposed to a recent draft pick.
Finally, the Dominican team was filled with first year pitchers this season, so they were all in the process of learning to pitch inside. Not surprising that the team leader in hit batters was Francis Rodriguez with 11, since he has spent three years in the DSL already.
To put a big red bow on all these stats, coming into Saturday night, Pirates pitchers have hit 20 more batters than any other team in the majors. That is something you should expect to keep seeing as these minor league pitchers start making their way to Pittsburgh.
Pirates Game Graph
Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They are 3.5 ahead of Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are one game behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost to the Brewers 1-0 on Saturday. Vance Worley will pitch game three of the series this afternoon. This will be his 16th start of the season and second against the Brewers. On August 24th, Worley allowed four runs on a season-high 12 hits in 6.1 innings, during a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee. In his last start, which was 11 days ago, Worley allowed three runs over five innings. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. The Indianapolis season recap and top ten. The Altoona season recap and top ten. Bradenton recap and top ten.
MLB: Pittsburgh (83-71) vs Brewers (80-75) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (3.18 ERA, 70:22 K/BB, 96.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)
AA: Altoona (61-81)
High-A: Bradenton (78-61)
Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)
Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)
RK: Bristol (22-46)
GCL: Pirates (20-40)
DSL: Pirates (34-36)
With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look at some recent video from the Fall Instructional League. On Friday, we posted a brief recap from Thursday’s action, along with some videos. Below is another video from Thursday’s action. This one is of Adrian Sampson getting a line out to JaCoby Jones at shortstop. Sampson threw two innings. He will be sent to the Arizona Fall League, which begins play on October 7th.
9/16: Pirates activate Charlie Morton from disabled list.
9/8: Pirates release Ernesto Frieri.
9/7: Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness clear waivers and were outrighted to Indianapolis.
9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.
9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.
9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list
9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.
This Date in Pirates History
Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including the center fielder from the Pirates first game in the National League.
Back on April 30,1887, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys played their first game in the National League and batting second that day, while playing center field, was Tom Brown. He played three years for Pittsburgh, the first two while the team was still in the American Association. Brown played 17 years in the majors and stole 657 bases. The interesting part about that is that they didn’t count steals during his first four seasons. Brown scored 177 runs in 1891, which still stands as the second highest total in single-season history. He also led the league that year with 106 stolen bases, 21 triples and 189 hits. Brown scored 1,521 runs during his career.
Sam McDowell was a great pitcher during his day. He was a big lefty who led the league in strikeouts five times. He signed with the Pirates on April 2,1975 and pitched 14 times for the team before being released in late June. That short stint with the Pirates marked the end of his big league career. He finished with 141 wins and 2,453 strikeouts.
Max Butcher played for the Pirates from 1939 until 1945, going 67-60, 3.34 in 1,171.2 innings. He had double-digit wins four times during his time with Pittsburgh. He went 28-46 the rest of his ten-year career.
Pitcher Jason Christiansen, who was traded to the Cardinals for Jack Wilson. Christiansen played for the Pirates from 1995 until 2000 and pitched 278 games (all in relief). He had a 4.13 ERA in 274.2 innings.
Ben Shelton, outfielder for 1993 Pirates, which was his only big league team. He hit .250 in 15 games, with two homers and seven RBIs in 24 at-bats.
Del Lundgren, pitched briefly for the 1924 Pirates. He had a 6.48 ERA in 16.2 innings over seven relief appearances and one start.
Gil Britton, shortstop for the 1913 team. His big league career consisted of three games in late September. He went 0-for-12 and committed three errors.
Danny Cox, relief pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. Threw 16 games after signing as a free agent in June and two more games in the NLCS. He played 11 seasons in the majors.
Finally, Antonio Bastardo, who pitched for the Pirates from 2015 to 2017. He had a 4.48 ERA in 90.1 innings over 103 appearances with the Pirates.