Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates, Early look into 2016.

Things are looking pretty up for the team with what appears to be few holes. the biggest questions are first base and Pitchers. Lets take a quick run around the diamond

Catcher
Francisco Cervelli .307/.375/.429 with a 3.1 WAR
Chris Stewart .295/.333/.352 with a 0.78 WAR
Tony Sanchez .375/.444/.375 with a 0.2WAR in 3 Games
Elias Diaz .265 in AAA

The Catcher position is pretty set for the next couple years. Cervelli and Stewart are hear through next year and have taken over for Martin much better than expected. What they have lacked on defense they more than make up for with the bat.

Sanchez is the insurance policy, who could be expendable.

2017 forward look for Diaz and McGuire to take over while maybe buffered by a 1 year deal or Sanchez.

First Base

Mike Morse .220/.289/.311 about a 0.0 WAR
Pedro Alvarez .255/.318/.470 with a 0.01 WAR
Josh Bell .313 in AAA

Despite Pedro's recent hot bat, Morse gets the nod here based on his defense alone. Morse has also greatly improved his performance so far with the Pirates looking more like what he was with the Giants than his time with the Marlins this year. If Morse gets the playing time and can get back to where he was last year.. Morse is the clear choice.

Pedro is going to be shopped this offseason. his contract is to large for a player who cannot play defense on a NL team. When he is on one of his hot streaks (like he is right now) then his bat makes up the difference. But this year especially those hot streaks are few and far between.

Bell probably won't make it out of spring but if he can field better than Pedro then he will be in town sometime in the summer. Like Pedro he is still learning the position but he is also younger and much cheaper.

In my opinion the Pirates should take whatever they can get for Pedro this offseason and go for someone like Chris Davis hard. If that falls through try to resign Garrett Jones or Corey Hart to minor league deals and hope they pull through.

Second Base

Neil Walker .265/.324/.427 with a 1.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Alen Hanson .267 in AAA

Walker is Old reliable. You can expect about .270 and 15+ home runs if he is healthy. He is a solid but nothing special on defense and a solid all round ball player.

Josh Harrison will probably be the odd man out if Kang continues to perform do to Josh's versatility and Kang's defense. Josh will see time at second, short, third and the outfield and maybe moonlight as a pitcher similar to the 2014 season and will probably play most every day once the season gets rolling.

Alan Hanson should see a few at bats this September and maybe be on the 25 man midsummer at second and short. His defense is still in question.

Shortstop

Jordy Mercer .242/.289/.315 with a -0.1 WAR
Jung Ho Kang .284/.360/.443 with a 3.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Alen Hanson .267 in AAA

Mercer wins out purley on his defense putting Kang at third. Mercer is a notorious slow starter he was in a middle of heating up when he got injured this season which is why his batting line is so low compared to his career numbers.

Expect to see Kang at short and Harrison at third quite a bit to start the season off.

Again Hanson may be on the 25 man in the summer to provide some extra relief.

Third Base

Jung Ho Kang .284/.360/.443 with a 3.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR

Kang wins out because it looks like he is a bat you need to keep in the line up and Harrison can play a handful of other positions well enough. Early on expect to see Harrison to get quite a bit of time at third until Mercer starts heating up in June.

Outfield

Starling Marte .286/.338/.451 with a 3.6 WAR
Andrew McCutchen .296/.398/.507 with a 3.9 WAR
Gregory Polanco .261/.331/.389 with a 1.7 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Travis Snider .237/.318/.341 with a 1.0 WAR (in Baltimore)
Josh Bell .313 in AAA

Starling Marte is probably the most complete outfielder on the team. That is saying quite a bit. He will be in Left or Center.

Andrew McCutchen is a better bat than Marte (so far) but doesn't have or at least hasn't displayed his speed as much. Marte's presence in left has also dropped McCuthens defensive stats, probably because he has less work to do. In theory you can swap Marte and Cutch in the outfield but it is probably best to leave them where they are comfortable unless an injury forces your hand.

Gregory 'don't let them tell you I can hit lefties' Polanco appears to have figured it out and is coming on strong at the plate and hasn't made as many big blunders in right. Watching him run is like watching a deer run across a field just majestic. Then the deer tries to slow down and falls on his face. Humor aside he is a great talent and expect above average player

Harrison will see plenty of time at the corners.

Travis Snider will hopefully stay with the club and be the left handed bench bat he excelled at in 2014 with good defense.

Again Bell will probably be called on midsummer and get a few innings in the OF.

Starting Pitchers

Gerrit Cole 14-7, 155 Innings, 2.61 ERA with a 3.2 WAR
Fransico Liriano 8-6, 142 Innings, 3.35 ERA with a 2.4 WAR
Charlie Morton 7-4, 88 Innings, 4.36 ERA with a 0.1 WAR
Jeff Locke 6-7, 129 Innings, 4.31 ERA with a -0.3 WAR
Vance Worley 4-5, 69 Innings, 3.78 ERA with a 0.2 WAR

The top 3 will be in the rotation baring injury. Locke and Worley may not depending on what the team does in the offseason and how prospects perform. Barring injury Glasnow and Taillon should be about ready. Possibly but doubtful start the season in the rotation.

There are also a large number of pitching free agents hitting the market. Some big names like Cueto. But also some other names like A.J. Burnett. While Batman said he would retire after this season.. he often says things about his career that does not happen as expected. If he comes out of this injury healthy expect the Pirates to offer him a fair 1 year deal.

No matter how you look at the starting pitching. Much of the failure this year is not the pitching. The Pirates defense this year has been horrible. I expect it to get a better next year and pitchers like Morton and Locke to have better stat lines because of it. They may not be Aces but they are better pitchers than their stats suggest and probably would have resulted in an extra win or 3.

Bullpen

Mark Melancon 1.58 ERA, 38 Saves, 2 blown saves, 47 Games, 57 Innings with a 1.0 WAR
Tony Watson 2.28 ERA, 56 Games, 55 Innings with a 1.1 WAR
Jared Hughes 2.41 ERA, 59 Games, 52 Innings with a 0.8 WAR
Arquimedes Caminero 3.43 ERA, 55 Games, 57 Innings with a 0.4 WAR

Other Minors options are available as well and many free agent options including three on our current 25 man. Blanton, Bastardo and Soria. Soria will probably not resign because he could and probably should be a closer somewhere. Blanton is a possible resign but probably wont' get the money he is looking for and Bastardo isn't well liked by most in Pittsburgh. There are quite a few others though that could be considered to give the big two in Melancon and Watson more break than Hughes will provide.

One of Locke Or Worley could get pushed back in the bullpen again however if that happens I feel the Pirates will try to trade Worley to give him more of a starting opportunity elsewhere.

Over all things look pretty good for the team. They are not forced to make any big moves this offseason and their payroll can still stay fairly low and could give them the flexibility to spend a little more to extend or bring in a full time first basemen or starting pitcher but donĂ¢€™t expect them to increase their payroll by 20 million on new free agent players.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Pirates team stats

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the third best record in the major leagues behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. That also puts them second best in the National League.

The Pirates are 16th in runs scored, 24th in walk percentage and 14th in on base percentage. It is fairly safe to say the Pirates offense is right around average over all.

The Pirates are 3rd in innings pitched, first in Ground ball percentage and second in ERA. It is fairly safe to say the Pirates have one of the best pitching staffs in Major League baseball.

The Pirates rank 26th in the MLB in total defense according to Fan graphs while giving up more runs due to error than anyone except for Oakland.

Of the Pirates semi-regulars only a handful have a positive UZR. Those players are Marte, Polanco, and Mercer. Kang has a positive UZR at third base and Rodriguez does at first. For comparison, every regular on the Cardinals has a positive UZR except Peralta.

So the Pirates over all have a fairly average offense, a great pitching staff and miserable defense. 


What does this mean really? Stats are just that stats, they tell you what has happened in the past to give you an idea of what may happen in the future. They are numbers on paper that do not determine how a player plays and do not tell the whole story but they can almost always give you a general idea what to look for.

At the trade deadline the Pirates had the right idea.  Pick up people to cover for injuries, plug a hole in the bull pen before it gets overly exposed and put a band-aid on the biggest hole on the defense.