When I last analyzed the Pirates 32 games ago their record was 13-17. The next 32 games the Pirates struggled to 12-20, to go 25-37. Most of the downward trend can be attributed to the offense or lack thereof. The pitching and fielding did improve somewhat but not enough to counteract the putrid bats. The Pirate management team continued to sabotage the season with some of their dim-witted moves, that contributed mightily to the June swoon. Let’s take a look at each segment of this downtrodden Pirate team
Hitting: This is where the Pirates team really suffered. Their OBP was 17th in baseball at the 30-game mark and plunged all the way to 28th. A similar situation existed for their OPS+ and their average runs per game, which both fell to 28th in MLB. They were 19th and 23rd. Thank God, the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers exist. Just about everyone contributed to this lack of offense. Bryan Reynolds has been hot lately, but for most of this period, he looked very bad at the plate. They have 5 players that could be considered above average hitters and one of them Ben Gamel is on the IL. A lot of these players are not Major League quality hitters and never will be. The Pirates inability to create any offense and score runs is the biggest reason this team is 12 games below .500 and looking like the downward spiral will continue for the rest of the season. There does not seem to be much hope, for these bats to improve given the current roster.
Pitching: The pitching showed some improvement, but again had one bad game where they gave up 18 runs, which does skew the stats somewhat. They did improve during this stretch of games. In runs allowed per game, they went from 29th to 25th. Their ERA+ went from 27th to 24th. FIP rounded out the overall improvement of the pitching, going from being 25th in the league to 23rd. Not great improvement, but improvement none the less. The bull pen has done a nice job, which is why the Pirates are 8-6 in one run games. They have 8 pitchers that have an ERA+ over 100. Overall, the pitching is shaping up ok for Pirates. The starting pitching has been particularly good for the most part. Hopefully, the pitching will continue to hold its own for the rest of the season. They better.
Fielding: Their defensive efficiency rating went up 2 places to 24th from 26th. Some of this was due to the fact that they played outfielders in the outfield. Most of the Pirates defensive issues are caused by players playing at positions they have not had a lot of experience. A great example is Rudolfo Castro. In 22 games he played shortstop in all or part of 19 games. In his minor league career, he played the vast majority of his games at second base. They don’t have as many defensive metrics in the minor leagues but let’s just use good old fielding %. In the minors at second base his fielding % was 961 and at shortstop 912. The Pirates played him at short for all those games when it was unnecessary. They played a lot of infielders out in the outfield for no apparent reason other than to lose games. The Pirates have done nothing to find a first baseman.
Management: I am not even going to get into all the mistakes they have made in player development, that would take an entire blog. The current team is enough to show that this regime has no interest in winning or even being competitive this year. Here is list of the current Pirate players who should not be in the Major Leagues. This list includes many players on the IL. The Pirates are one of the few teams in baseball that when one of their players get hurt, it improves the team. In no particular order they are Michael Perez, Daniel Vogelbach, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Yu Chang, Tyler Heineman, Jake Marisnick, Heath Hembree and Anthony Banda. That is a lot of DFAing the Pirates would have to do if they are really going field a major league team. The sad part is, when these are players are available, they play them all the time. This keeps any young player off the field and can only hinder his development. The perfect example is when they brought up Travis Swaggerty. Why? He only had 9 plate appearances and 6 of those were against left-handed pitchers. They had 4 outfielders for the 3 positions but why couldn’t they have rotated them as the DH. Play 3 of them in the outfield and DH the other one. How did anything that happened to Travis Swaggerty help his development. The answer is nothing. It is the perfect time to find out if Swaggerty can cut it in the majors. There is plenty of room for him on this team. As I wrote before, you could write a book on this regime’s pathetic thinking. Hopefully they can judge talent better than they can handle it. Will the next 30 games be just as bad. I guess you should ask Yu Chang, the key to next 30 games. Or maybe Vogelbach, the Turtle would know. Certainly, any of the eight minor league level players, the Pirates have, will help keep this team heading toward the basement of the National League.