In Venezuela on Sunday, Jose Osuna extended his team record hitting streak to 17 games with a home run. He was the DH and went 1-for-3 with a walk. The home run, which is shown below, was his fourth of the season and hit off of Logan Duran, who is a 36-year-old veteran winter league pitcher. Osuna is now hitting .321/.376/.538 through 22 games.

Elvis Escobar went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk on Sunday. He is now hitting .276/.335/.337 through 53 games.

Engel Vielma lost his eight-game hitting streak on Sunday, but he did reach base safely, going 0-for-3 with a walk. He’s hitting .244/.319/.317 in 29 games this winter.

Danny Ortiz went 0-for-3, leaving him 2-for-33 in 11 games this winter. He has a .253 OPS. He is still a free agent.

In the Dominican, Anderson Feliz was the only player of note to see action and all he did was play the final two innings in right field after the starter was ejected for arguing a strikeout call. Feliz did make two catches in the ninth inning, so there’s that. Starling Marte remained out of action with a hand injury after being spiked on a stolen base attempt.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-2 with a walk. He is now hitting .272 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and a 24:21 BB/SO ratio in 56 games. Munoz is still a free agent.

Jin-De Jhang was named to the World All-Star team in Australia on Friday, then after not playing this weekend, he was removed from the roster due to injury on Monday. According to the team, it’s an unspecified arm injury and Jhang is done for the winter so he can rest and recover.

He ended up with a .273/.333/.364 slash line this winter in 12 games, while throwing out 70% of base runners. His stat page has him at 80% for caught stealing, but they wrongly credited him with a few pick-offs at first base, where the runner took off for second base and was thrown out. Those plays were all scored 1-3-6, so Jhang wasn’t part of them.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. J.T. Realmulto has requested a trade. Yes, please. If I could find a way I would deal Cervelli to Marlins and pick up most of the money. Realmulto is young, tough, and in his prime. Would love to have him on the Pirates. 3 years of control too.

    • Yeah, did NOT wake up this morning expecting to read that take!

      I’m sure these findings would be disputed around the league, but I’m convinced there’s a lot of truth to this. The benefits of shifting seem only relevant against a small number of hitters in limited situations, and the infrequency of those shifts may very well mean that player performance is degraded when they’re on.

      • I tend to agree, and certainly think that the narrative that teams such as the Pirates could exceed projections because of secret sauce such as groundballing and shifts has hopefully died so we can have an honest discussion about what it will take to be a true contender again.

        • It’s been pointed out by smarter folks than me, but a leading indicator might be the couple analytically-inclined clubs who notably *don’t* shift much, such as the Cubs, Dodgers, and Cards. There’s obviously an underlying reason for this.

          The public argument *in favor* of shifts was always theoretical, not evidence-based, and fairly rudimentary. Look at a guy’s spray chart, adjust fielders where his contact is most prevalent. I’d *hope* the analysis went deeper than that internally, but who knows.

          • i can absolutely forgive a team for looking at spray chart and thinking “obviously, we should be positioning our players differently.” and then putting a shifting system into practice.

            but after a year or two of putting it into practice and seeing the similar BABIPs, extra BBs, etc, i’d hope that they would have challenged the idea internally.

            • I’ve read a good bit of work over the last couple of years that at least questioned just how much shifts were actually helping, so I suppose I was ready for the shock, but yea, something this demonstrative coming from someone like Russell Carleton is a big deal!

              I made the point at BD that the argument in favor of shifts working was really always about theory, not so much evidence-based. Hitters don’t have much control over where they hit the ball, this is where their spray charts say the ball is most likely to be hit, so lets move our guys there. Like you said, that made sense! If one believes the theories presented in that argument, shifts become basic. But what that argument lacked was *overall* performance against the shift; evidence that it was actually saving runs, when context is included. Not just whether or not batters have lower average on ground balls or BABIP overall, but how all the events with the shift on and off added up over time.

          • I’ve wondered the same things. On a semi-related note I will say Sawchik’s Big Data Baseball which glorified this FO is looking incredibly dated a mere few years later.

            Of course Travis is the same guy who suggested a comparison between NH and Belichek but I digress…

            • It’s not even a Huntington thing; he was super heavy on John Hart references when he first started writing at the Trib as well.

              I love reading him, but the best I can say about his ability to analyze baseball is that he’s a great writer.

      • …but some luck one season and the Pirates winning 98 (and didn’t they win best front office in sports in some publication?) have them still getting high on their own supply and believing everything they do is the industry standard. The shift has always existed and smart and skilled players have been trying to beat it just as long. It’s not the be all end all for sure. Ground ball pitchers are always of solid value but once again I’m not completely behind a pitcher who always pitches to contact. Growing up I loved the pitchers with very good control that still got a strikeout per inning and I still do. To hell with the pitching to contact. I’ll take the k any day over a groundball. I’m glad that the Pirates had at least a decent success story with the shift but as usual other teams are ahead of them on trends and they stagnantly keep the front office that is a year or two behind the elite teams intact despite completely scuffling for two years.

    • For the sake of discussion, MLB will not ” burn the shift ” on one man’s opinion. There will have to be more to re-inforce his work.

    • Baseball always has been and always will be about adjustments. Just because offenses have counterpunched the shift doesn’t mean we’ll start seeing 2 defenders on either side of 2b for every batter.

      Offenses are focused on hitting more fly balls right now at the expense of strikeouts. As such, I’d expect Pirates to incorporate more high fastballs and low curveballs off the same plane to attack this strategy. Which means the whole pitch to contact theory will be shelved for most batters.

      • This is true, but I think one of the interesting parts of that analysis is that they don’t necessarily show shifts are failing because hitters are changing or adjusting. There’s an aspect of that happening, yes, but also the study questions how much shifts ever actually helped in the first place!

      • The batters did not suddenly all become stronger and able to hit the ball out of the park with great ease, the shift did not stop working, the ball has not been juiced and Cervelli has not forgotten how to frame pitches. Major League Baseball has decided to elevate the strike zone and take away the low strike just as the Pirates have loaded up on sinkerball pitchers. All this was done to put offense and the home run back into the game. Right-handed batters can place a high pitch or hit it out of the park while they tended to roll over the low pitch with a ground ball to the shortstop. Now the power pitchers that we converted into 2 seam fastball throwers have to get comfortable with the high fastball again.

    • From what I saw on the video, he looks real. I don’t believe he’s real in the way you think he’s real.

      • HA!

        He’s a good player. I’m just saying he’s got a future in the bigs and the Pirates are gonna need the bat. If he can play third, he’s making the team out of spring training this year.

        I saw him playing left at Toon Town and he hit a home run that day and gunned a runner down at the plate with a strong throw.

        He’s a flat out good hitter and P2 has on many occasions said he’s a 4th outfielder type, but I think he’s better than that.

        ———————————–
        “ELVIS! STOP SCARIN’ THE BABY!!!”
        -Wabbit

    • He has played 14 games at third base, one in right field and seven as the DH, including his first three games when they eased him into action after six weeks off.

  2. This Osuna fella…Could he be a legit part of a true Pirates contender? I’m not saying that contender is NOW, but still. Even if that “role” he would fill would be to give innings and AB’s at the 4 corners?

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