Morning Report: The Numbers Have Dropped, But Teams Still Getting On Base Often

One month ago, I noticed that at the time, the four affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates all led their league in team on base percentage. In fact, they were all getting on base at a similar rate, with Indianapolis being the best with a .343 OBP and Altoona and West Virginia tied with the worst of the four, just .004 below Indy. So how have those teams held up a month later?

Indianapolis has really tumbled down the rankings in the International League. They now rank sixth with a .327 OBP, putting them 13 points behind the league leader. There could be some easy explanations. The absence of Alen Hanson for two weeks, plus the departure of Deibinson Romero hurt the team. Steve Lombardozzi was tearing the cover off the ball early and Jose Tabata was getting on base at a high rate before being called up. They have added Keon Broxton and Willy Garcia and neither of them are hitting well, so you can see where the differences add up.

Altoona isn’t in first anymore, though they really haven’t dropped much in percentage or in the rankings. Their .336 OBP is second best in the Eastern League and trails first place Reading by five points. Altoona leads the league with a .273 batting average and they are second behind Reading with a .726 OPS, so they are still one of the better hitting teams in the 12-team league.

Bradenton had a .341 mark back then and now they are three points lower, but they are still well ahead of second place in the Florida State League. They also lead the league in average, slugging and of course, OPS.

West Virginia just got on base 26 times yesterday, so I picked a good day to check for them. Wednesday actually put them back into the lead, as they came into the day trailing Delmarva by three points. By the end of the night, the Power(.337) had a one point lead.

So the bottom two levels have maintained a high on base percentage, and Altoona really hasn’t fallen off, they just had another team in the league catch fire and surpass them. While it’s too early for the three short-season teams in the U.S., we can take a quick look at them anyway.

Morgantown has had an awful time hitting so far and not surprisingly, they rank last with a .220 average, but their OBP ranks them seventh out of 14 teams. They are second in the league in walks.

Bristol just hurts to follow in the boxscore unless one of their promising young pitchers in on the mound. They are next to last in OBP and OPS, and third from last in both average and slugging. More importantly, they are last with 30 runs scored in nine games.

The GCL Pirates are sixth out of 16 teams in OBP in their league, but their .347 OBP is the best among all Pirates’ teams in the States. It looks early on, like it is a high offense year in the GCL.

Finally, the DSL Pirates have been playing long enough for their stats to matter, but they weren’t included the first time because they had played one game at the time. If you thought the GCL numbers were good, well the DSL numbers would then be amazing. The Pirates have a .370 OBP, but before you get too excited, that ranks them sixth in the league. That isn’t a bad ranking considering there are 38 teams in the league, but it shows the offense is very high there.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by seven games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 2.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 6-4 in their last ten games. They have a six game lead in their division.

Altoona is 3-7 in their last ten games and they are now trailing by 1.5 games in their division.

Bradenton and West Virginia did not win their first half title. The second half began Thursday for both teams and the second half records will be included below in the schedule.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 9-3 over the Tigers on Wednesday night. Francisco Liriano will get the ball today, as the Pirates look for a sweep. He gave up two earned runs over seven innings in his last start against the Braves. His mound opponent will be Kyle Ryan, who has a 4.56 ERA in 23.2 innings. In his last start, he allowed three runs over 3.2 innings against the Indians.

In the minors, Tyler Eppler makes his fourth start of the season. He has had one bad inning in each of his first three games and has yet to go five full innings. Stephen Tarpley has pitched well in back-to-back starts, giving up three runs over 11.2 innings. Jason Creasy was named to the Eastern League All-Star team on Wednesday, the only pitcher from Altoona to make the team. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (44-33) @ Tigers (39-38) 1:08 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.21 ERA, 31:108 BB/SO, 95.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (48-32) @ Toledo (35-44) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.95 ERA, 27:45 BB/SO, 66.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (43-35) @ Trenton (42-36) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (2.99 ERA, 32:38 BB/SO, 87.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (36-41, 4-3 second half) vs Charlotte (47-30) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (6.94 ERA, 3:7 BB/SO, 11.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (43-33, 6-1 second half) @ Kannapolis (37-39) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (2.83 ERA, 12:32 BB/SO, 35.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (5-7) @ State College (5-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (3-6) vs Johnson City (4-5) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (5-3) vs Tigers (6-3) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (12-16) vs Tigers (15-13) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here we have video of Max Moroff hitting a double on Tuesday night. He was named to the Eastern League All-Star team along with four teammates on Wednesday afternoon.

Recent Transactions

7/1: Alen Hanson activated from disabled list. John Holdzkom and Hunter Morris placed on disabled list.

7/1: Paul Brands assigned to GCL Pirates from DSL.

6/30: Corey Hart sent on rehab to Indianapolis.

6/30: Jose Tabata outrighted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Jeff Inman and Gift Ngoepe promoted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Pirates sign Daniel Zamora.

6/28: Jose Tabata designated for assignment. Gorkys Hernandez added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Chris Volstad designated for assignment. Steve Lombardozzi added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Clario Perez promoted to Altoona. Wes Freeman activated from disabled list.

6/28: Kawika Emsley-Pai retired.

6/28: Hunter Morris activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/27: Junior Lopez promoted to Bradenton. Dovydas Neverauskas activated from West Virginia disabled list.

6/26: Tyler Glasnow assigned to Altoona.

6/26: Deolis Guerra added to Pirates roster. Rob Scahill placed on disabled list.

6/26: Wilkin Castillo activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/25: Robert Stock added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka placed on disabled list.

6/24: Casey Sadler placed on disabled list. Brad Lincoln and Josh Wall added to Indianapolis roster.

6/24: Corey Hart placed on disabled list. Chris Volstad added to Pirates roster.

6/23: Pirates sign Shane Kemp. Assigned to Bristol.

6/22: Andy Otamendi assigned to Morgantown.

6/21: Marek Minarik and Luis Paula sent to Bristol.

6/20: Pirates release Edgar Munoz

6/20: Pirates sign Garrett Russini as a non-drafted free agent.

6/19: Pirates sign Sean Keselica and Stephan Meyer. Both players assigned to Morgantown.

6/19: Collin Balester traded to Cincinnati Reds.

6/18: Steven Brault promoted to Altoona. Jin-De Jhang added to Bradenton roster.

6/18: Ten draft picks signed and assigned to various short-season teams. Link here with details. Five others were also signed later in the day. Details here.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a transaction of note that could have went much better if the Pirates were patient. Starting with the players, we have outfielder Nyjer Morgan(2007-09), first baseman Sean Casey(2006), outfielder Tony Armas(1976) and outfielder Ed Beecher of the 1887 Alleghenys. Armas is the father of Tony Armas Jr, who pitched for the Pirates in 2007.

Also born on this date, catcher/outfielder Fred Carroll, who played for the franchise from 1885-89 and then again in 1891. For nine years, he held the franchise’s record for career homers. Carroll batted .281 in 574 games for the Alleghenys/Pirates, scoring 405 times and driving in 295 runs.

On this date in 1892, the Pirates signed outfielder Joe Kelley, who was a 20-year-old minor leaguer at the time. He had 12 games of Major League experience the previous season, but he was still a raw rookie. He played 56 games for the Pirates in 1892 before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles. The deal ended up very bad for the Pirates, who got one half year out of their returning player, George Van Haltren. Kelley became a star almost immediately, despite hitting .239 for the Pirates. He averaged 127 runs scored and drove in 108 runs per year from 1893-98. By the end of his career, he had stats good enough to get him elected to the Hall of Fame.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 2, 2015 5:00 pm

    Congrats to the Pirates on a 3rd win in Detroit this afternoon. Although they caught the Tigers in a downward spiral, the three wins were impressive nonetheless. Overall, pitching was good and the hitting showed up. Except for Caminero and Bastardo, it was a pretty impressive effort all around.

    Walker is on fire – we need that the rest of the way. Good to see Marte get a HR – its been a long dry spell for him – between #12 and #13. Cole, Burnett, and Liriano all pitched extremely well against a very dangerous lineup.

    Great series sweep on the road!

    Cleveland is coming in next – and they are playing well – just swept the Rays I believe. They go as their starting pitching goes….will not be an easy series.

  • Thanks john, this is the 7-11 of pirates prospects, all your buccos needs in one spot, gotta watch that brain freeze, yeouch!

  • Hoping for a road sweep today against a good team. Bucs need to gain some momentum as they close the first half on a 4 game home series against the Cards. That’s a huge series especially is they can get to within 3 or 4 games by the break.

    • It’d be a bit of a perfect scenario, but imagine picking up 1 more game on STL before that series and taking 3 of 4. We play our butts off heading into the break and manage to be 4 games out.

    • 3 of 4 would be great, the way the pirates play against the central though I think 2 of 4 is more realistic, with a strong possibility the pirates get their butts kicked. I would very much like to be proven wrong and see the bucs finally figure out the cards and go 4 and 0, I mean hey the breaks have to swing the pirates way sooner or later right?

  • JoseGuillensArm
    July 2, 2015 9:57 am

    Seems like these hitting coaches have absolutely no plan out there….eh Pilbo?

    • Developing pitching yes they have a good plan, finding talent under the proverbial rock yes they have a plan, and a good one. developing young hitters they find under the proverbial rock yes they have a plan, just not a very good one. Two outta three ain’t bad it just shows there’s room for improvement.

      • Young hitters they find under a rock? Cutch, Walker, Marte and Alvarez weren’t found under a rock, they were all developed in the Pirates system and all have been very productive hitters.

        • Throw in Mercer and Harrison once he argues that most of those guys were 1st round and “dont take a lot of development”. Mercer has a decent bat for his position. Thats a lot of offense from in house.

        • Stop already with the nitpicky bs I’m sick to effin death of all the excuses, you pick 4 guys out of 400 and call that success sure those guys are good did ya stop and think maybe it’s in spite of not because of the pirates (lack of) hitting development, why do so many players go outside the organization to get hitting instruction but no pitchers do. so enough already with the whiny arsed excuses.

          • The only one whinning and throwing a fit is you…Stick with your corny humor, suits you better. Leave the baseball knowledge to others. Thank You

  • Happy Birthday to Tony Plush.

  • I think George Van Haltren was tied up with the “horse liniment” use scandal during his playing days. It was developed by early BIOGENISIS founders Drs. Foster and Smith. Once outed George never could recover from his charley horses.

  • John – Pirates play at 1:08 this afternoon