Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Swing Frequencies of the Pirates Offense

The 2013 season is 19 games old for the Pittsburgh Pirates; yet hot or cold starts are still nothing more than that in most cases due to the small sample size of the season. However, a hitter’s swing rate is something that tends to begin to stabilize early on in the season (at around 50 plate appearances) and the Bucs have eight hitters that can be examined using this statistic.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pedro Alvarez's Early Season Slump

After looking at Russell Martin’s start to the season, it’s natural that a fellow struggler who hit his first home run of the season against the Braves on Thursday night should follow. Many people saw Pedro Alvarez as one of the most important players on the roster if the Pirates are to be successful this season; however Alvarez will need to refine his approach at the plate if he’s going to hit for more than power this season. 

Highlighting Russell Martin's Plate Discipline

When I wrote about the start of Russell Martin’s Pirates career at the plate yesterday, I stated that his low batting average on balls in play combined with his plate discipline indicated that he would likely see a turnaround in fortunes. What I didn't expect was to see an immediate example of how his selectivity at the plate will help him break out of his slump. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Russell Martin's Unfortunate Start To His Pirates Career

Russell Martin was the Pirates’ big free agent addition over the winter, signing the largest major league free agent contract in club history. While his Pirates career his started slowly offensively, he has helped the club defensively; FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan looked at the impact that Martin has had with his pitch framing skills and noted a big change for the Bucs. However, as good as Martin could be defensively he will soon need to offer something at the plate in order for him to have value to the club. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jonathan Sanchez's Pirates Future

Prior to the suspension of Tuesday night’s game against the St Louis Cardinals, Jonathan Sanchez had given up two runs (one earned) over two innings – he gave up two hits while striking out three and walking just one hitter (with all the damage done in the first inning). With Francisco Liriano, Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton either beginning to make rehab outings or close to it, the Pirates rotation has the potential to get overcrowded fairly soon. The question is where this leaves Sanchez in the future with the club. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Starling Marte's Hot Start

Through the first thirteen games of the season, Starling Marte has a triple slash line of .370/.404/.519 in 57 plate appearances, picking up 20 hits – five of which went for extra bases (three doubles, one triple and a home run) - and is currently on a nine-game hitting streak. Marte has been the Pirates’ best hitter so far; his .402 wOBA is almost 50 points higher than Travis Snider’s .355 wOBA.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Polar Opposites of Pirates Pitching and Hitting in a Small Sample Size

The Pirates offense has been that bad so far this season that it has overshadowed some very good pitching. The season is still very young and much will change, even over the next week, and not much can be garnered from this small sample size. However, what the early season statistics do show is the polar opposites of the club’s pitching and hitting so far in 2013.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Current Focus on Splits in Clint Hurdle's Line-Ups

Clint Hurdle’s line-ups so far this season have had a focus on spits (with a lefty-righty balance against right-handed pitching). For example, the clean-up spot has been filled by Pedro Alvarez against right-handers and Gaby Sanchez against lefties, with Garrett Jones and Neil Walker hitting second against righties and Russell Martin against lefties (although Walker will hit second against Clayton Kershaw tonight). The only consistencies have been Starling Marte leading off, Andrew McCutchen hitting third and Clint Barmes eighth.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Look At The Current Batting Order

Clint Hurdle has elected to continue with the Opening Day line-up for the second game of the season, despite the Pirates offense struggling in the season opener with Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija on the mound. While much of the focus centered around Gaby Sanchez’s presence ahead of Travis Snider, I believe that Hurdle’s line-up is really the bigger issue.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Notes After Opening Day

The 2013 season did not begin in an ideal fashion for the Pittsburgh Pirates, dropping the opener to the Cubs while offering little at the plate. Nonetheless, one defeat doesn’t mean that the Pirates are going to struggle, much like a win today wouldn’t have meant that the Bucs were going to be contenders. The Pirates have a shot at bouncing back on Wednesday night, with Wandy Rodriguez getting the start against Edwin Jackson. Drawing conclusions on how the season is likely to pan out would be nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction at this point; however there are some noteworthy items after today's game:

Pittsburgh's 25-Man Roster Set For Opening Day

The Pirates have finalised their 25-man roster ahead of today’s opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Projecting The Offense: Right Field

Right field is the toughest position to project; the Pirates entered Spring Training appearing to give the majority of playing time to Travis Snider, who is attempting to stick in the majors for the sixth time, with Jose Tabata backing him up – perhaps in a platoon. However, Garrett Jones will get the Opening Day start, with both Snider and Tabata on the bench. What is almost certain is that right field is a position that will be in a state of flux for the first half of the season at least.

Travis Snider
2012 (Minors): 246 PA, 16 doubles, 0 triples, 13 home runs, .335/.423/.598, .435 wOBA, 2 stolen bases 
2012 (Majors): 185 PA, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, .250/.319/.378, .307 wOBA, 2 stolen bases 

2013 Projections
Bill James: 312 PA, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 11 home runs, .278/.345/.468, .352 wOBA, 5 stolen bases 
ZiPS: 497 PA, 27 doubles, 1 triple, 13 home runs, .253/.312/.403, .310 wOBA, 9 stolen bases 
Oliver: 482 PA, 23 doubles, 2 triples, 15 home runs, .255/.319/.421, .320 wOBA, 9 stolen bases