First Pitch: A Podcast and a Look Into Adam Frazier’s Defense

A few quick notes this morning:

**I did a podcast over at Baseball America with Kyle Glaser. We talked about a lot of the top prospects in the system, spending a lot of time on Mitch Keller, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Cody Bolton. You can check it out here.

**MLB released a new metric for infield defense, and surprisingly Adam Frazier is rated as one of the best infield defenders in the game. Frazier ranks 12th among the best infielders in 2019. Frazier did make a turnaround in 2018 with his defense, looking stronger at second base, and providing positive value. It’s not a surprise to see him with positive value here, but is a surprise to see him so high.

The big thing that stands out to me is his “Outs Above Average” when ranging to the first base side. I haven’t read up on the new stat enough to know whether that increase for Frazier is due to Bell, or something that would be there regardless of who is at first base.

I’ll be looking over these numbers more, but for now feel free to give your thoughts in the comments.




By John Dreker

One event and seven former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including one with an extremely significant event in team history.

On this date in 1988, Willie Stargell was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He was named on 352 of the 427 ballots, while a total of least 321 (75%) were necessary for election. Stargell was the only player voted in that year, but five others on the ballot eventually got in, one of them being Bill Mazeroski, who finished seventh with 33.5% of the votes. Willie played 21 seasons in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, the only team he played for in his career. He was a .282 career hitter with 475 homers and 1,540 RBIs. In Pirates history he ranks third in games played, fifth in runs, seventh in hits, fourth in doubles and first in RBIs, homers and walks.

Bill Madlock, third baseman for the 1979-85 Pirates. He was a four-time National League batting champ, winning twice before joining the Pirates. He would win the batting title with a .341 mark in 1981 and then again in 1983, when he had a .323 average. Madlock was a .305 hitter in 1,806 games over his 15-year career. He batted .375 with five walks during the 1979 World Series. He is the only Hall of Fame eligible player with four batting titles who isn’t in the Hall. Madlock turns 69 today.

Ivan Nova, pitcher for the 2016-18 Pirates. In 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates, he went 25-25, 3.99 in 71 starts. He threw five complete games and one shutout, compiling 412.2 innings with the Pirates, He was acquired from the New York Yankees and the 2016 trade deadline and then traded to the Chicago White Sox last off-season. Nova has an 89-76, 4.32 record in ten seasons in the majors.

Rich Loiselle, relief pitcher who spent his entire big league career with the Pirates, playing for the team from 1996 until 2001. He was a 38th round draft pick of the Padres who also played in the Astros organization before the Pirates picked him up in July 1996 in exchange for pitcher Danny Darwin. Loiselle made his MLB debut that September and in five games, he had a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings. He moved to the bullpen the following season and became the Pirates closer, saving 29 games while posting a 3.10 ERA in 72 outings. He had another 19 saves in 1998 with a 3.44 ERA, but his stats dropped and he was removed from the closer role. He pitched 13 games in 1999 before injuring his elbow, which cost him the rest of the season. Loiselle returned in late May 2000 and posted a 5.10 ERA in 40 games. He struggled in 2001, shuttling between Nashville (Triple-A) and Pittsburgh, finishing with an 11.50 ERA in 18 major league games. Loiselle had a career 4.38 ERA in 224 innings.

Bobby Crosby, infielder for the 2010 Pirates. Crosby played half of a season for the Pirates before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five-player deal. He was signed as a free agent by Pittsburgh in November of 2009 and hit .224 with 11 RBIs in 61 games. He got starts at all four infield spots, seeing his most time at shortstop. Crosby was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2004 and spent seven seasons in Oakland before joining the Pirates. He was a first round draft pick out of college in 2001.

Ed Stevens, first baseman who played for the 1948-50 Pirates. Known as “Big Ed”, he signed his first pro contract with the Dodgers when he was 16 and hit .271 with 13 homers that season in Class D ball. He made the majors with the Dodgers by age 20 and hit .274 with 32 walks and 29 RBIs in 55 games as a rookie. Stevens played 103 games in 1946, hitting .242 with ten homers and 60 RBIs. He spent nearly the entire 1947 season in the minors where he hit .290 with 27 homers and 108 RBIs. The Pirates purchased his contract in November 1947 and he would play 128 games for them the next season, hitting .254 with 69 RBIs, while leading all NL first baseman in fielding percentage. Stevens played just 67 games in 1949, then spent most of the following year in the minors, getting a brief September call-up, which was his last appearance in the majors. He played minor league ball until 1961, hitting over 250 homers during his 16-year career

Tom Kinslow, catcher for the 1895 Pirates. Kinslow had played in the majors as early as 1886, but he got his first real chance in 1890 when the Player’s League was formed. When the league folded after one season, he followed his manager from the PL to the NL, staying in the same city to play for the Brooklyn Grooms. In 1892, Kinslow hit .305 with 40 RBIs in 66 games. After a down year at the plate, he returned to form in 1894 to put up very similar numbers to 1892. In 62 games, he hit .305 again with 41 RBIs. In January 1895 the Pirates traded pitcher Ad Gumbert for Kinslow. The trade didn’t work out well for either team. Gumbert had two losing seasons in Brooklyn and Kinslow lasted just 19 games, in which he hit .226 in 62 at-bats. Kinslow played two more seasons in the majors, seeing a combined 25 games for three different teams.

Ed Swartwood, OF/1B for the 1882-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys and 1892 Pirates. Ed played Independent ball from 1878 until 1881 when purely by chance he got to play an MLB game with the Buffalo Bisons of the NL. Swartwood’s team played an exhibition game against Buffalo on an off-day, but after the game two Bisons players had to leave the team for personal reasons. Buffalo picked him up for the day and he went 1-for-3 with a walk. He rejoined his minor league team after the game. The American Association was formed for the 1882 season as a rival major league to the NL. Swartwood signed with Pittsburgh and he would hit .329 that first year with 86 runs scored and 18 doubles, leading the AA in each of those last two stats during the league’s inaugural 80-game schedule. He was the first batter in Pittsburgh Pirates franchise history, batting lead-off on Opening Day. The AA schedule expanded to 98 games the following year and Swartwood would lead the league with 147 hits and a .357 average, winning the first batting title in team history.

After hitting .288 in 1884, the Alleghenys sold him to the Brooklyn Grays. The move was made necessary by the fact that Swartwood had said he was going to sign with an NL team, so Pittsburgh was forced to sell or trade him or risk losing him for nothing. Swartwood played for the Grays for three seasons, never quite approaching his 1882-83 numbers. He then played two seasons in the minors, reappeared in 1890 in the AA when the league’s talent was watered down due to a third Major League in existence, the Player’s League. Despite hitting .327 with 80 walks and 106 runs scored in 1890, he was back in the minors for 1891 when the PL folded. Ed started the 1892 season with the Pirates and hit .238 in 13 games with 13 walks before they released him. He went back to the minors and played there until the end of the 1893 season. He umpired off and on in the minors for the next ten years before retiring from baseball.