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  1. Hahaha great way to write this article. Great read.

    Comment by JBentley — May 24, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  2. I hope their walk rate keeps going down to 3.14% so it can be a Pi rate.

    Comment by KJ — May 24, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  3. “.030″ is a typo, right?

    Comment by jw — May 24, 2012 @ 11:41 am

  4. I love this because I learned lots of things from it and also giggled at the last three chart titles.

    Also, not sure who Josh Harrison is, but he is leaving a mark. Otherwise it’s pretty much the McCutchen and McDonald show at this point.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — May 24, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  5. Regarding cause-for-hope #2, in which struggling Pirates get replaced:

    My hypothesis: despite less-than-league average play, it is unlikely that replacing these Pirates with replacement-level players will inspire hope.

    Data: The sum WAR of all non-McCutchen Pirates with at least 50 PA is -0.8.

    Hypothesis rejected. Also, great article.

    Comment by Steve — May 24, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  6. So nerdy, yet so funny

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — May 24, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  7. How do they replace? Unfortunately their prospect strength is in the pitching category, and they don’t have much room, if any, to deal those guys away. Their prospect hitting could be very weak as future MLB replacements. They would surely be weak at this point in time.

    Their only option now is to unload their non-pitching core 1 by 1 with the hopes of scoring a couple James McDonald type hitters from desperate contenders, but even then, they will need to rely on those prospect pitchers to catch on rapidly at the MLB level to fill in the gaps. Maybe they can find more success with those short term Bedard/Burnett fillers to help along the way as they try to deal for more hitting.

    Unfortunately the whole situation has been resting on the shoulders of Pedro Alvarez. When he’s hitting well, the offense can do a few things. I just try to forget the awful time they’ve had trying to find a guy to play SS. With every trade they make, their margin for error is very slim.

    Comment by baty — May 24, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  8. Part of the problem is that the Pirates have played the most difficult schedule of any team in the NL thus far, and also have faced the aces of those teams (Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kershaw, Cain, Strasburg, Verlander, to name a few). The Pirates opened the year facing the Phillies, then immediately went on a west coast trip vs. S.F. and L.A. But it’s starting to level out… St. Louis just finished a west coast trip vs. S.F. and L.A., and lost 4 of 5 games; now they get to face the Phillies’ rotation for the first time.

    But lack of hitting talent (outside of McCutchen) is the bigger problem. Just about everyone got off to a slow start, and even though Alvarez had a white hot streak, and free agent acquistitions Barajas and Barmes have been semi-respectable of late, those early season numbers are a drag on their collective stats. And unfortunately, veterans Nate McLouth and Casey McGehee look like they’re done.

    Finally, what if Derrek Lee had pulled the stick out of his @$$ and accepted some $8M to play first base for the Pirates? Even if Lee gave the Pirates the same .246/.302/.404 line (and a 92 OPS+) he produced for Baltimore last year, that’d be an enormous upgrade over the production from Jones (78 OPS+) and McGehee (50 OPS+) so far this year.

    Comment by gonfalon — May 24, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  9. I dont’ think they are making moves to make things happen right now. It’s clear that some of the guys they have in their lineup are long shot place holders. Right now, the Pirates are in waiting just as the Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman were.

    Their only chance for an open playoff window is when they manage to secure most of the 5 man rotation with their prospect depth (if Cole, McDonald, McPherson, and Taillon can get on the same page). And if that can happen, shortly before is when I think you’ll start to see them making investments to improve the the most needed areas of the lineup.

    What’s nice about having Bedard and Burnett around, is that they have some potential in becoming tradable. I like the Pirates taking the rout of spending money on pieces that could become near future assets to other teams.

    Comment by baty — May 24, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  10. Baba Booey!

    Comment by B Booey — May 24, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  11. Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Rod Barajas, Casey McGehee, Alex Presley, and the always offensively underwhelming Clint Barmes

    It’s one thing when you see a bad team you don’t follow and the roster is full of names you don’t recognize, because you can rationalize they’re a bunch of young players with unrealized potential. But it’s another when you do recognize the names as guys you wouldn’t want your team to trade for under any circumstances.

    the 2012 Pirates currently rank 2nd highest (out of 2164 teams) with a 24.3% strikeout rate.

    So who was first?

    Comment by joser — May 24, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  12. This was excellent. Really really excellent. Take a bow.

    Comment by Big Jgke — May 24, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  13. A truly pathetic organization. The Pirates are dealing with the effects of 15+ years of signing based on “signability” versus actual talent, over-paying end-of-the-line veterans in an attempt to placate the masses with a “name” player, and, at the trade deadline, always somehow being the team pressured to give up more for no reason. The Pirates aren’t even what they used to be 5 to 10 years ago: a nice farm system for the real teams. There is NOTHING to look forward to in the Pirate farm system. Don’t let the current record fool you–this anemic team has at least two 10-game losing streaks in it. Nothing will change until ownership changes, and then add 5 years to that.

    Comment by Jenna Tuhlwertz — May 24, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  14. A Nerdstorm!

    Nerdstorm is defined as: when something is so nerdy it ruins the readers ability to have any meaningful relationships until a cold shower is taken.

    This was a Nerdstorm!

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — May 24, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  15. Walker, Tabata, and Presley will all get better if the rest of the team improves.

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — May 24, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

  16. Has a player ever finished the season with twice as many WAR as his team? McCutchen is at 2.0WAR, and the Pirates position players are at 1.0 for now– I want to see this happen.

    Comment by LegallyMinded — May 24, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  17. Let’s not cut the Padres any slack, either. They somehow have managed to be second-to-last in strikeouts and last in homeruns. Their 1B has 4 more errors (5) than homeruns (1), their team total in homeruns (17) is less than a single player in Texas has hit, their top three salary earners are Carlos Quentin (hasn’t played) Huston Street (thrown less than 10 innings) and Orlando Hudson (no longer on the roster), and the overall active salary is $30.5 million.

    Comment by Marver — May 24, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  18. Glad you liked it!

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — May 24, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  19. Not a typo, just more complex than should be crammed into a single sentence.

    If we take a slash12 xBABIP of league, the result is .030 higher than it really is (at least according to the data I was using). So I adjusted the xBABIP results down — otherwise EVERY team was in line for offensive regression (which they may be, but given the growth of shifts, I’m guessing the league BABIP is just decreasing).

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — May 24, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  20. I was just surprised that it was that much. 30 points is a lot.

    Comment by jlwoj — May 24, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  21. We can still call up Matt Hague to take a step closer to mediocrity at some point. Walker and Tabata will improve. Can’t believe we’re this bad and don’t have injuries to blame!

    #Pittsburghatory

    Comment by TKay — May 24, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  22. Watching this team day in and day out is so frustrating… especially considering that their front office is supposed to have some kind of slant towards SABR. This offense is beyond reason to get a hitting coach fired, it should get an entire scouting department canned.

    The real tragedy here isn’t that the major leaguers are underperforming, it’s that there is no one… NO ONE… in AAA that’s a legitimate prospect (or even a fringe one) and is ready to come up and contribute. AA’s the same.

    I’m not advocating knee-jerk trades or rushing guys in the minors. I’m not saying that they should be bringing guys in off the waiver wire. All I’m saying is that there’s no way that a major league front office should do this horrible in identifying hitters every offseason.

    Rant over. I kinda feel better.

    Comment by rambodiaz — May 24, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

  23. Home runs is something of an unfair metric to use to judge any team – the Padres play in a well-known pitcher’s park and shouldn’t be expected to have the HR rates that they do in, say, Texas. (Even so, using a park-neutral measure like wRC+ still leaves their offense looking pretty putrid.)

    Comment by Jason B — May 24, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  24. Great points all around. In a perfect world, players playing worse than replacement level should get replaced by AT LEAST replacement level players in the minors. But those players aren’t necessarily in a given system.

    Still, if the Pirates play the waiver wire carefully enough, they should find a few treasures as the season goes along.

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — May 24, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  25. *treasures as in 1.0 to 2.0 WAR players (if they’re lucky)

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — May 24, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  26. Oh, and just an excellent, excellent article.

    Comment by rambodiaz — May 24, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  27. A rising tide does raise all ships. What’s your point?

    Comment by Big Jgke — May 24, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  28. Off the top of my head… the 2010 Diamondbacks. (And I then I checked, and I was right: K% of 24.7).

    Comment by Nathan Nathan — May 24, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  29. “Signability”? Really???

    You are aware that since Neal Huntington took over as GM, no team has spent as much on the amateur draft as the Pirates, including many over-slot bonuses to later round picks? For example, was Josh Bell (2nd round, 2011) really a “signability” pick? And are you really saying that no one is looking forward to the debut of Pirates farmhands such as Gerrit Cole, or Jameson Taillon?

    And you are aware that the Pirates actually took on salary last year at the trade deadline, right? It’s not the Pirates’ fault that Derrek Bell didn’t accept $8M or so to play 1st base this year.

    The current front office and ownership of the Pirates is far from perfect, but at least they have a plan, as evidenced by the top-down rebuild that they’ve clearly committed to.

    Comment by gonfalon — May 24, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  30. GO NEAL!!!

    Comment by Jeff King — May 24, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  31. Curious: what do you have the league BABIP as?

    Comment by BX — May 24, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  32. The team is not pathetic, the offense is. As pointed out, the team is 4 games below .500 and has a better record than the angels. Improving the offense would be terrific (and, theoretically, not difficult), but if that happens at the cost of the pitching and defense that have allowed them to win what they have, then it doesn’t help.

    I think they are better off hoping that a few of their guys return to their career and 2011 averages instead of getting rid of the part of the team that is working in hopes that their replacements will play better than these replacements have.

    Comment by Scorus — May 24, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  33. Not sure the exact number I had in my dataset (I’m on a different computer right now), but the league average is .291 right now.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2008&ind=0&team=0,ss&rost=0&age=0&players=0

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — May 24, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  34. Wasn’t there an article a few years ago about star-war vs rest of team War? I remember him being on a similar situation there. On the flip side, at least McCutchen is a Pirate for a while.

    Comment by piratesbreak500 — May 24, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  35. as stated above the first month and a half Pirates had very tuff schedule facing top pitchers in the N.L. and throw in verlander..the Pirates pitching has 3rd best era in baseball..bedard had 2 bad outtings aj burnett 1 bad lincoln and jmac have been almost perfect this year….dont give up on bucs they have a great pitching staff and i think some these guys,walker,tabata,presley bats will come around..as long pitching stays focused they will stay around 500..just need 2 more hitters is all…..LETS GO BUCS

    Comment by likdeeznutz — May 24, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  36. I hear there’s a first base treasure buried under vegas somewhere for the pirates, a treasure costing $10 million, but I’m sure AA will giving Huntington the treasure map free of charge!

    Comment by endeav — May 24, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  37. They thought Barmes and McGehee would be replacement level, and they’re nowhere close. This “replacement level” player isn’t easy to find, especially for a team like the Pirates. Looks like there isn’t much help on the horizon unless they start dangling guys like Morton, Hanrahan, Grilli, or McDonald for comparable bats, and I wouldn’t want to see McDonald go.

    I think having one of Marte, Tabata, and Presley needs to be dealt and possibly some mid-level pitching prospects because having all those outfielders with similar skillsets is redundant.

    Comment by Pat — May 24, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  38. Haha. D Lee at first, not Derrek Bell.

    I think you slipped into retro mode to counter the horribly outdated mumblings above. Does anybody really think that the Bucs haven’t been trying to accumulate high level talent over the last four years?

    Seriously, Jenna?

    Comment by rdv — May 24, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  39. Reply fail. Should have been attached to Gonfolan’s post earlier in thread.

    Comment by rdv — May 24, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  40. Well, I’d argue that Starling Marte is a legitimate prospect in AAA, and Jordy Mercer seems to be at least a fringe one to step in so I wouldn’t say there is NO ONE at AAA, but yeah, it doesn’t look very good at AA and AAA in terms of hitting prospects.

    Comment by Guy from PA — May 24, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

  41. you’re right, thanks for the correction!

    Comment by gonfalon — May 24, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

  42. *Derrek Lee, not Derek Bell

    Comment by gonfalon — May 24, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  43. The Pirates have 114 wRC on the season! Thats almost 2 and a half Josh Hamiltons! Granted, Josh Hamilton has played a couple less games, but thats a favorable comparison!

    Comment by Keystone Heavy — May 25, 2012 @ 12:47 am

  44. Is the Pirates offense worse than the Twins pitching staff? I want to see an article like this about the team with a worse than replacement level pitching staff.

    Comment by Nick — May 25, 2012 @ 1:19 am

  45. “There is NOTHING to look forward to in the Pirate farm system”

    Marte, Cole, Taillon, Rojas, Jr. all said to tell you “Hi!”

    Comment by Cocktailsfor2 — May 25, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  46. Bell–Lee—Smith–Jones. the name Derek or any of its itirations should be banned from ever wearing the black and gold.

    Comment by ndbrian — May 25, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  47. Bah humbug-reality has set in. life sucks without hitting!!

    Comment by Piratebill — May 25, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  48. Agreed, love the picture narrative.

    Comment by astrostl — May 25, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  49. I don’t think Marte is legitimate yet… still more attractive than he is productive. He’s been fairly stable at just about at 5% for BBs and 20% for Ks his MILB career, which seems more like a hit or miss prospect to me.

    What’s interesting about him, is that for his first 3 MILB seasons he basically carried .400 BABIP. This year he’s down to .333 and his production is quite flat. He’ll need to continue being pretty productive defensively if he wants to keep the Pirates patient while he tries to figure things out.

    Comment by baty — May 25, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  50. The Pirates could have one of the more young and interesting starting rotations in baseball a few years from now. It’s not to say they will be good, but it is something to look forward to.

    Watching Stetson Allie walk 60 hitters and strike out 120 hitters in 60 innings could be pretty fun too.

    Comment by baty — May 25, 2012 @ 11:15 am

  51. Quick, dirty, inconclusive, and extra-super-rudimentary look

    Per WAR (including fielding and positional adjustment for the “bats”):
    Pirates “bats”: + 0.9 WAR
    Twins SP: -0.9 WAR

    Runs below/above replacement:
    Pirates “bats”: -56.0 RAR
    Twins SP: -11.9 RAR

    Comment by BX — May 25, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  52. The most amazing part is the 20-24 record… I’m an old school baseball fan and don’t pretend to understand alot of the sabremetrics but I believe the record makes one thing clear… You can compete w/ good pitching and historically terrible hitting. Ironically the Pirates have had the reverse in the not too distant past and lost 100 games. I’m of the belief that two “decent hitters” added to this lineup… somebody at top of and a 5-6 guy who hits .280, hits 20 homers and drives in 90 runs and I think this team could contend in the NL Central. It’s not like anybody else in that division is going to run away from the rest of it. I guess in the non-steroid era a couple of “decent hitters” is asking for alot though.

    Comment by pittpanther17 — May 25, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  53. How long do you hold out on Tabata and Alvarez turning into the players they looked like as top prospects? Alvarez is 25 and Tabata is 23. Tabata’s IFF rate is pretty high compared to his small sample career up to that point. Other than that it just looks to me like he kind of sucks. Haven’t looked a lot into Alvarez yet but at 25, something better start clicking.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — May 25, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  54. I think Tabata has hope but Alvarez is a lost cause

    Comment by adohaj — May 28, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  55. Remember in the 90s and early 2000s when lousy teams were lousy teams because they couldn’t get anyone out? Those were the days. I’d take the ’96 Tigers or ’99 Royals over the 2012 Padres any time.

    Comment by Grebe — June 5, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  56. How do you guys like our offense now? :)

    Comment by Pghfan987 — July 11, 2012 @ 2:49 am

  57. Stetson Allie plays third base now

    Comment by Yae — July 25, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

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