First Pitch: A Look at the Hitting Splits for the Altoona Curve

Over the last two days in our First Pitcher articles, we have looked at the home/road splits for the hitters on Greensboro and Bradenton. Both cases had players with huge splits, but there were multiple players who did better on the road and multiple that did better at home. Greensboro looked to be a neutral park from those numbers, while Bradenton seemed to slightly favor hitters, though there were some players who did much better on the road. Today we move on to Altoona to see how their batters did home and away.

Just like with the Bradenton article, I included Oneil Cruz here, despite the fact that his sample size was too small in both places. He got here based on name and because he would have been the first player on both lists who didn’t make the cut. I used 14 players total based on their playing time. They are shown with the most at-bats first, working down to Cruz.

Bligh Madris – Madris didn’t favor home or road, but he was a completely different hitter in each place. He posted a .711 OPS at home by getting on base often. He had a .694 OPS on the road, where he hit all eight of his home runs.

Jared Oliva – Oliva is just like Madris, no real difference home vs away, but he showed more over-the-fence power on the road. He had a .757 home OPS and a .742 road OPS, where he hit five of his six homers.

Jerrick Suiter – Suiter isn’t with the Pirates anymore. They lost him in the minor league Rule 5 draft. We can still use his numbers here for comparison, especially since he played a lot. Suiter was much better away from home, both getting on base and with the slugging. He was awful in Altoona (.499 OPS), and mediocre on the road (.651).

Logan Hill – Hill is another push. He was .768 away, .750 at home. He too had the home run splits though, with eight on the road and four at home.

Mitchell Tolman – Tolman was 98 points better at home (.733 vs .635). He showed nearly identical extra-base hits and walks in each situation, but the batting average was 51 points higher at home.

Brett Pope – Pope is similar to Tolman, where he did much better at home and it was driven by singles. Pope had a .735 OPS in Altoona, and .574 on the road. His batting average was 78 points higher at home.

Bralin Jackson – Jackson isn’t with the Pirates anymore. He left via minor league free agency. We could still use his stats though. He adds another even split to the pile, .624 at home, .613 on the road.

Arden Pabst – Pabst struggled all season at the plate and it didn’t matter where he was playing. He’s the closest split here, .538 (home) vs .542.

Hunter Owen – Before he was promoted to Indianapolis, Owen was having an All-Star season at Altoona. He’s the rare player here who hit more homers in Altoona (9 to 6). That helped lead to a .984 OPS at home and .882 on the road.

Jason Delay – Delay showed a huge home/road split, while hitting four homers in each situation. He had an .852 OPS at home, .529 on the road. He batted 148 points higher at home.

Chris Sharpe – After being promoted from Bradenton, Sharpe was another one of the neutral hitters. After the first two days of doing this, it’s amazing how many players were so close with the home/road splits for Altoona. Sharpe was .712 at home, .701 on the road.

Robbie Glendinning – After being promoted from Bradenton, Glendinning became approximately the 50th player on this list with a minimal difference. He was .750 at home, .727 on the road.

Alfredo Reyes – Reyes is no longer with the Pirates and he wasn’t even a batter by the end of the 2019 season. He switched to pitching early in the year. He was almost even home and road, though he didn’t hit well in either situation. Reyes was .539 at home, .532 on the road.

Oneil Cruz – Cruz didn’t even play 20 games at home or on the road, so the sample size is small. He favored Altoona during that short time, going .882 vs .663. He favored road games in Bradenton.

So the results show that five of the six biggest splits favored the home park. The other eight players were basically the same in either situation. Jerrick Suiter was the only hitter who showed a notable difference that favored the road. I’m going to finish Indianapolis tomorrow, but I will circle back to Altoona to see how the pitchers fared at home vs road (might do it for all four teams if there is interest).





By John Dreker

We have five Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including teammates from the 1990 squad, who were born on the exact same day.

Rip Sewell, pitcher for the 1938-49 Pirates. Among Pirates pitchers in franchise history, Sewell ranks tied for seventh with Ray Kremer with 143 wins. He is also seventh in innings pitched with 2,108.2, tenth in starts (243) and complete games (137), while throwing twenty shutouts. During the decade of the 1940’s, no National League pitcher won more games than Sewell, who had 133 victories during that span. He is the last pitcher in Pirates history to win 20+ games in a season twice.

Sewell didn’t win his first big league game until ten days before his 32nd birthday. He pitched five games for the 1932 Detroit Tigers before joining the Pirates in 1938. That was his only big league experience before turning 30 years old. He would pick up double digit win totals for seven straight seasons (1939-45), including back-to-back 21-win seasons in 1943-44. He led the league in wins and complete games (25) in 1943. At age 41 in 1948, he posted a 13-3 record, leading all NL pitchers in winning percentage. Sewell was elected to three All-Star games.

Sewell came from a baseball family that produced four Major League players, including Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, who was his cousin. Joe had two brothers, Tommy and Luke, who played in the majors.

Mike Garcia, pitcher for the 1999-2000 Pirates. He was drafted by the Tigers in the 55th round of the amateur draft. Three years earlier, while coming out of high school, the Red Sox drafted him in the seventh round. With the Tigers, he made it to Double-A before being released in 1993. He then signed with the expansion Colorado Rockies, but was cut by the end of Spring Training. From 1994 until 1998, Garcia played in Mexico and Taiwan. In December of 1998, he returned to the states, signing with the Pirates. He had a 3.95 ERA in 23 Triple-A outings in 1999, earning a September call-up. He allowed a run in his Major League debut, then followed that with six scoreless appearances. In 2000, Garcia was a late cut during Spring Training, but made it back to the majors shortly after the season started. His results were opposite of the previous season with Pittsburgh. He struck out the side during his only inning during his first game back, then struggled the rest of the way. In 11.1 innings over 13 outings, Garcia allowed 21 hits, seven walks and 15 runs, before being sent back to Triple-A and eventually released before the season ended. Pittsburgh resigned him in January 2001, and he spent the season in Double-A, where he dominated the younger competition. He bounced around the minors and foreign ball until retiring after the 2007 season.

Mark Huismann, pitcher for the 1990-91 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Cubs in 1979, but did not sign. The next year he went undrafted and signed with the Royals. By 1983, he was in the majors with Kansas City, although he only spent one full season (1986) in the majors during his career. The Pirates signed him in March of 1990 as a free agent after he was released by the Orioles. The previous season he had a 6.35 ERA in eight games (11.1 IP) with Baltimore. For the Pirates in 1990, Huismann made just two appearances in June, giving up five runs in one inning, then throwing two shutout innings the other game. In 1991, he was called up early in the season when the Pirates sent down Tom Prince and expanded the bullpen to six pitchers. Huismann pitched five games, allowing runs in three of them. In another game, he gave up a hit to the only batter he faced. He was sent back to Triple-A in May, then Pittsburgh released him in June. Huismann signed quickly with the Royals, although he pitched in Triple-A until the end of 1992 without making it back to the majors. He is one of just four players from Colorado State University to make the majors. He made one start in his nine-year big league career, coming in 1986 for the Mariners.

Walt Terrell, pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. He was drafted and signed by the Texas Rangers in 1980. Just before Opening Day in 1982, the Mets acquired him, along with Ron Darling, in exchange for Lee Mazzilli. Terrell won 11 games for the Mets in 1984, then was dealt to the Tigers in exchange for Howard Johnson. In Detroit, he would win at least 15 games over the next three seasons, going a combined 47-32 in 102 starts. His record fell to just 7-16 in 1988, but he had a better ERA than each of his two previous seasons. Terrell was then traded to the Padres, where he pitched briefly, until being dealt to the Yankees in July of 1989. After a 5.20 ERA in 13 starts for New York, he left via free agency, signing with the Pirates just 16 days later. He had a few decent starts in Pittsburgh, but for the most part, he was far from his best days in Detroit. After 16 starts, Terrell was released, finishing 2-7 with a 5.88 ERA. He resigned with the Tigers, pitching there through the end of the 1992 season. He finished his career with a 111-124 record, with a 4.22 ERA in 294 starts and 27 relief appearances.

Gene Hermanski, outfielder for the 1953 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Philadelphia A’s in 1939, but made his big league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943. Shortly after his debut, he began serving in the military, which caused him to miss all of 1944 and 1945. Hermanski returned to the Dodgers in 1946 and remained there until a June 1951 trade sent him to the Chicago Cubs. He hit .255 with 34 RBIs in 99 games during his first full season with the Cubs (1952) and he was batting .150 through 18 games played in the 1953 season, when the Cubs sent him and five other players (plus cash) to the Pirates in the Ralph Kiner deal. For Pittsburgh, Hermanski played 41 games, mostly off the bench. He hit .177 with four RBIs in what would turn out to be his last season in the majors. He spent the entire 1954 season playing in the Pacific Coast League before retiring. He had a career average of .272, with 533 hits in 739 games.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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