It’s Time to Take the Pirates Seriously

As I write this, the Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for the second best record in baseball. They also happen to be tied for second place in their own division, because the Cardinals are the only team with a better record while the Reds have matched Pittsburgh’s 33-20 start, making the NL Central the most competitive and most interesting division in the sport right now. The Cardinals are Reds are both excellent teams, and we should expect both to continue to win at a good clip over the rest of the year, but what about the Pirates? Is this another first half mirage that will lead to a second half collapse, or do Pittsburgh fans finally have a contender to root for?

I think the answer to both of those questions is probably yes; the Pirates are playing over their heds and will likely regress over the next four months, but their strong start and their overall talent level should keep them in the race to the very end.

Let’s start with the playing-over-their-heads aspect of things. Pretty much any team that is on pace to win 101 games is probably having a few things go their way, so we could look at nearly any team at the top of the standings and say that they should be expected to play worse over the rest of the year. This is just how regression to the mean works. Find someone or something that is doing better than anyone else at that thing and suggest it won’t keep doing that thing as well as it has been; you’ll be right more often than not.

But, what we really care about isn’t whether or not the Pirates will regress, but how far they will regress. It’s the magnitude, not the direction, of the regression that really counts. So, how far over their heads have the Pirates been playing?

The most common way of answering that question is to look at pythagorean expected record, which judges a team based on runs scored and runs allowed rather than wins and losses. By RS/RA, the Pirates “should be” 30-23, not 33-20, as they’ve wracked up an extra three wins because of the timing of when they’ve scored and allowed their runs. However, I’m not really a fan of using pythagorean record as some kind of indicator of how many wins a team “should have had”, since it really only goes halfway in stripping out unsustainable sequencing. If we’re going to acknowledge that the timing of runs is mostly random, why not also acknowledge that the timing of the things that lead to runs are also mostly random, and use those individual events rather than the sequencing-included runs scored and runs allowed totals?

If we really want to strip out timing and just focus on the actual events that a team has been involved with, we’re better off going all the way down to the value of the individual plays, rather than stopping at RS/RA and deciding that the runs scored and allowed are a good measure of luck-free performance. And, perhaps the easiest way to sum up all the of events a team has been involved in without taking any sequencing into account is to just look at their wOBA differential. We did this last week with the Cubs, but let’s focus it on the Pirates this time.

(Run Differential is on a per game basis, by the way.)

Team Batting wOBA Pitching wOBA wOBA Differential Run Differential Winning %
Tigers 0.338 0.290 0.048 1.25 0.569
Rangers 0.333 0.299 0.034 0.98 0.615
Cardinals 0.319 0.292 0.027 1.42 0.673
Rockies 0.332 0.308 0.024 0.55 0.528
Reds 0.322 0.299 0.023 1.26 0.623
Red Sox 0.336 0.313 0.023 0.80 0.593
Braves 0.322 0.302 0.020 0.81 0.596
Pirates 0.306 0.288 0.018 0.53 0.623
Rays 0.329 0.313 0.016 0.33 0.539
Athletics 0.323 0.308 0.015 0.54 0.574
Cubs 0.309 0.295 0.014 0.02 0.412
Indians 0.336 0.322 0.014 0.42 0.539
Diamondbacks 0.316 0.303 0.013 0.50 0.577
Orioles 0.341 0.332 0.009 0.36 0.547
Giants 0.318 0.313 0.005 -0.09 0.528
Dodgers 0.306 0.306 0.000 -0.71 0.431
Yankees 0.312 0.313 -0.001 0.33 0.577
Angels 0.323 0.326 -0.003 -0.17 0.453
White Sox 0.293 0.299 -0.006 -0.48 0.480
Nationals 0.294 0.301 -0.007 -0.40 0.509
Mariners 0.304 0.315 -0.011 -0.81 0.415
Brewers 0.311 0.325 -0.014 -0.90 0.373
Padres 0.307 0.324 -0.017 -0.40 0.462
Blue Jays 0.325 0.343 -0.018 -0.62 0.434
Phillies 0.301 0.319 -0.018 -0.75 0.491
Mets 0.296 0.318 -0.022 -0.70 0.420
Royals 0.301 0.323 -0.022 -0.14 0.420
Twins 0.303 0.339 -0.036 -0.50 0.440
Marlins 0.265 0.321 -0.056 -1.64 0.245
Astros 0.305 0.370 -0.065 -1.83 0.302

By run differential, the Pirates are hanging out with the A’s, Rockies, and Diamondbacks, and they rate #9 overall in MLB. And maybe that’s the group that it feels like, based on pre-season forecasts, they belong in. None of those teams were expected to make the playoffs based on most forecasts, and each one seems to be playing a bit over their heads at the moment.

By wOBA differential, the Pirates don’t move that much — jumping from #9 to #8 — but their company changes. Now, they’re in the mix with the Rays and Braves, teams that were expected to be contenders, and are generally seen to have playoff caliber rosters. This isn’t a case where the Pirates run differential overstates how many extra wins they’ve earned through timing, but I do think it’s helpful to know that, in terms of the plays the teams have been involved in, the Pirates have performed in a roughly similar manner to teams that everyone believes can keep on winning.

By either run differential or wOBA differential, the Pirates have played like a team that should win about 57% of their games, now 62%, so, again, regression is almost certainly coming. And, of course, we shouldn’t just regress a team’s winning percentage in two months back to their underlying performance over the first two months of the season, since even things like wOBA are subject to sample size issues. For instance, the Pirates lead the league in wOBA allowed at .288, but a large part of that is based on holding opponents to a .265 BABIP.

Even if we think that the Pirates terrific defense is a big reason why they’re turning so many balls in play into outs, that’s the kind of number that is less likely to be sustained over the rest of the season than, say, the Tigers starter’s strikeout rate. The Pirates have a pretty decent pitching staff — and an excellent if perhaps overworked bullpen — and a good group of defenders, but that .288 wOBA allowed is probably going up.

That’s why, on our standings page, we don’t use season-to-date numbers to forecast a team’s projected record over the rest of the year, but we instead lean on the rest-of-season projections from ZIPS and Steamer and playing time forecasts from updated depth charts. These numbers take 2013 performance into account, but also adjust for a player’s historical norms and where he is on the aging curve, which allows for a better future forecast than just looking at two months worth of data.

Here, you can see the expected coming regression. The Pirates offense is likely to perform a little bit better, jumping from 3.92 runs per game up to 4.18 runs per game, but the run prevention gets a lot worse, rising from 3.40 runs per game to 4.08 runs per game. Overall, those forecasts see the Pirates going just 56-53 the rest of the way, if they don’t make any changes to their roster.

But, here’s the thing; because the Pirates are already 33-20, going 56-53 the rest of the way would cause them to finish with 89 wins, and the full season forecast on the standings page has them ending the year with the sixth best record in all of baseball, and their final record would be good enough to earn them a spot in the Wild Card play-in game against the Reds. And these records don’t take into account the future upgrades that contending teams will make this summer, so you can probably add some additional wins to the teams at the top of the pile. If I had to guess a final record with the expectation that the Pirates will be buyers this summer, I’d probably pick them to finish with somewhere in the 90-92 win range.

In other words, we can regress the Pirates early season performance heavily, note that they’re playing well over their heads, and that their pitching can’t keep up their current levels while still also acknowledging that they’ve put themselves in pretty good playoff position. Right now, the Pirates should probably be favored to join the Reds as the NL Wild Card teams.

It’s been a long time since Pittsburgh had a winning season. It’s been a long time since Pittsburgh had a baseball team as good as this one. They won’t keep winning at their current pace, but this team should not only be good enough to break the streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons, it might just break the playoff drought as well.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Cardsfan
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Cardsfan
3 years 3 months ago

lol. Someone just discovered the Pittsburgh Pirates about five minutes ago. I’ll take the under on that 89 wins. A rotation of Burnett, Wandy, Jeanmar Gomez, Locke, and Liriano is going to be quite bad over the long haul.

Matt
Guest
Matt
3 years 3 months ago

They’ve looked pretty good against the Cards so far this year. Even Jonathan Sanchez was in line for a win against the Redbirds before he had his start rained out in the 4th. Looking forward to seeing how the year plays out on the field. Let’s talk again after that five game stand Bucs v. StL end of July, early August.

Paul
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Paul
3 years 3 months ago

They also have Gerrit Cole and Jameson Tallion in the minors that could be called up over the summer

pitnick
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pitnick
3 years 2 months ago

Tallion won’t be. Cole maybe, although he hasn’t pitched all that well at AAA. In the short term, the return of Morton and Karstens will be more of a boost.

CabreraDeath
Member
CabreraDeath
3 years 3 months ago

And, considering that Gomez (and/or Locke) will most likely not be in the rotation ‘over the long haul’, you’re showing some arrogance and ignorance at the same time.

Additionally, either by intention or lack of reading comprehension, you’re ignoring the fact that their offense has *under-performed*, as Dave makes persuasively clear in his article….that you probably didn’t read.

Anyways, you added nothing to the conversation. Good work.

Cocktailsfor2
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Herp Derp.

The Pirates have been bad.

Now, tell us about the Marlins’ new stadium.

ElToroStrikesAgain
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ElToroStrikesAgain
3 years 3 months ago

Talk about Jeanmar and Locke all you want, but Morton, McDonald, Cole, and Karstens could be waiting in the wings to run with the baton if/when those guys falter.

Jason B
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Jason B
3 years 3 months ago

“but Morton, McDonald, Cole, and Karstens could be waiting in the wings”

Perhaps, but there’s not a lot of “there” there, if you know what I mean. McDonald might be alright, but Karstens and Morton don’t seem to be worth getting particularly excited about. Although league-averageish to a little worse may be OK if Burnett, Liriano, et al continue pitching really well.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
3 years 3 months ago

Going to guess you didn’t read the article above where Cameron heavily regressed the pitching performance and they still ended up projected to make the playoffs.

bjs2025
Member
bjs2025
3 years 3 months ago

As a fellow Cards fan (livi in Altoona, 2 hours from Pittsburgh) we don’t all think this way. Most of us are thoughtful, respectful people unlike this man.

bjs2025
Member
bjs2025
3 years 3 months ago

With this said, I hate the Reds maybe more than any team in the league and sincerely hope they fall on their face. Dusty Baker’s brainless comments (or perfectly normal ones for him) regarding Chapman’s “Whoops,” moment against Nick Swisher were awful. I’d like to see how he’d react if “Oops!” Trevor Rosenthal threw one at Joey Votto’s face.

Leo Walter
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Leo Walter
3 years 3 months ago

bjs2025 : or maybe Brian Morris. Ask Valdespin how a shot to the ribs feels from a 95 mph Morris fastball.

Michael
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Michael
3 years 3 months ago

Except there’s no reason to believe they will be “quite bad” A.J. Burnett has been the 6th most valuable pitcher in the NL last year. Liriano is 27th in only 4 starts with 0.9 WAR. Now it’s doubtful over 12 starts he’d be at 300% of 4 starts (0.9 WAR), but I feel comfortable going a bit over 150%, so 1.5 WAR. He’d be tied for 11th.

If that’s your #1 and #2, Wandy Rodriguez is the #3 at 61st with 0.5 WAR. Absolutely fine. Locke and Gomez are probably both fringe #5 starters, with Locke having a bit more upside than Gomez, but overall with the success of AJ and Liriano, you’re looking at an average staff. If you want to regress AJ a bit and Liriano a good bit, then you’re probably below-average, but certainly not “quite bad.”

That doesn’t even include the ability to add rotation members (Charlie Morton, a healthy James McDonald, Gerrit Cole or a trade). The pitching won’t be this good in terms of ERA, but it won’t turn into a sinkhole either.

Also, I’ll take the over on 89 wins and 100$ if you are interested.

Cardsfan
Guest
Cardsfan
3 years 3 months ago

Done. The Pirates to win 90 on the back of AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Wandy Rodriguez is the easiest $100 I’ll ever make.

bjs2025
Member
bjs2025
3 years 3 months ago

Do you know there are another 22 players? And that those three pitchers are fully capable of 7 WAR amongst them?

TWNDAI
Guest
2 years 11 months ago

Did you pay up yet? Because they just won their 93rd game. I’ll bet you’re nowhere to be found.

Devern Hansack
Guest
Devern Hansack
3 years 3 months ago

They also have the prospects to make a big trade at the deadline. Acquiring someone to take over at third, short, or in the back end of the rotation should help them counteract some of the anticipated regression.

LaLoosh
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LaLoosh
3 years 3 months ago

they’ve got rotation depth coming themselves. Barring a setback, Gerrit Cole could be in their rotation in the 2nd half. They should look to upgrade at SS tho I don’t know who’ll be out there and so they may just be able to turn to Mercer or D’Arnaud. I think they are fine at 3B with Alvarez.

pitnick
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pitnick
3 years 2 months ago

Not sure I agree with the Cole part. Wandy-Liriano-Burnett aren’t going anywhere, Locke would need a real string of awfulness to be removed from the rotation at this point, and Karstens or Morton could replace Gomez. Cole could pitch his way into the rotation, but I wouldn’t call it a lock, especially not with the way he’s pitched so far at AAA.

Leo Walter
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Leo Walter
3 years 3 months ago

Why would you want a replacement at third when your current third basement is underperforming for average,but leads your team in Homeruns and RBI ?

Bill
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Bill
3 years 3 months ago

Because this is the 21st century and we understand that homeruns and RBI’s are not the be all and end all. He has a wRC+ of 77. I’m not saying he won’t improve, but he hasn’t exactly helped the Bucs this year. That being said, he’s probably better than this and will likely have a better second half. This should help Pittsburgh deal with the inevitable regression of other players.

gorillakilla34
Member
Member
gorillakilla34
3 years 2 months ago

Yes he did the same thing last year before going off for a wRC+ of 145(June), 125(July), & 165(August) then tailing off in September (70). And his 77 so far this year is mainly because of a God awful April (49).

BookWorm
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BookWorm
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t mean to be the “gotcha” commenter, but in your Wednesday chat you had the Pirates at 87 wins and falling short of a WC spot. Did something change in the last two days, or did you just give it a more thorough look and decide to bump them into the playoff picture?

Matthew Murphy
Member
3 years 3 months ago

I’m a Cardinals fan but sincerely hope that the Pirates finally have a winning record and make the playoffs this year (as long as it doesn’t cost the Cards a spot).

Another Cardinal Fan
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Another Cardinal Fan
3 years 3 months ago

I agree.

Also, the mention in the article about the Pirates pace to win 100+ got me thinking. The Cardinals are on pace to win 109.

Yet Another Cards fan
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Yet Another Cards fan
3 years 3 months ago

WACHA WACHA WACHA

Colin
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Colin
3 years 3 months ago

Best Pirates team in 20 years, without much competition. If Cole’s stuff begins to play up at AAA, he’ll be an upgrade over Gomez in the next month. Whe rest of the rotation is pitching at a level that they could easily maintain for the rest of the season. The bullpen, similarly, has no obvious reason for collapse. Both the starter and bullpen FIP and xFIP are lower than their respective ERAs, but not so much so that a correction would cause them too much of a regression in terms of wins/losses. As for the hitting, getting a SS sure would be nice, though perhaps too expensive, but they’ve finally filled the hole at catcher that Jason Kendall left forever ago, and McCutchen finally has a stud to play with in Starling Marte. This team should sit comfortably in the high mid to high 80s in wins at the end of the season, and only get better over the next two years.

MikeS
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MikeS
3 years 3 months ago

Doesn’t somebody write this article every year around this time? Then in a month or two we get the “Can the Pirates Finish Above .500 for the First Time Since 1992?” article.

It’s like the sun rising in the East.

CabreraDeath
Member
CabreraDeath
3 years 3 months ago

He pretty much explained why this year is rather different, no? But, until they play 162 games and actually do it rather than project it, I’d agree that a healthy dose of skepticism is called for.

This year, though, I’m betting they meet projections. Because they’re obviously a better team, simply stated.

Noah
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Noah
3 years 3 months ago

Right. All analysis regarding the Pirates should stop and we should always assume they will finish with a losing record…

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Tomorrow will replicate yesterday. It cannot be otherwise.

DD
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DD
3 years 3 months ago

I agree. Dave – can you compare their position in these stats this year with same time last year, and show where they ended up?

Andrew
Member
Andrew
3 years 3 months ago

I know this is FanGraphs, but the Pirates were 25-25 at the end of May last year. I don’t think these articles were being written on May 30, 2012.

Leo Walter
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Leo Walter
3 years 3 months ago

MikeS : reading comprehension problem ? Or,did you just skim the column and hit the keyboard ? You obviously didn’t understand what Cameron was pointing out.

t
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t
3 years 3 months ago

I hope this doesn’t jinx the Pirates the way you jinxed Sabathia.

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Pirates Jinx > Cameron Jinx. The issue is whether the 2013 can overcome both jinxes.

Iron
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Iron
3 years 3 months ago

They were 11 games over at the all-star break last year and still found a way to finish 4 games over .500.

They were 2 games over two years ago at the all-star break and finished 18 games under .500

I don’t know if it is depth, or scheduling, or what but I’d take the under in a heartbeat at 89 wins. Baseball Prospectus has them projected to 87.5. Even that seems optimistic. Until proven otherwise, this is a team that has a bad history of finishing the season.

Iron
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Iron
3 years 3 months ago

correction… still found a way to finish 4 games UNDER .500.

Matt
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Matt
3 years 3 months ago

Using the helpful and obscure data you just posted, let’s just keep working with the +14 game swings over 2011 and 2012 and assume they finish 10 games above .500 in 2013.

Hey! That puts them right in that 90-92 win spot that Cameron suggests. 91-71. Problem solved!

Richie
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Richie
3 years 3 months ago

???

Iron
Guest
Iron
3 years 3 months ago

So they went 15 games under .500 in the second half two years ago and 20 games under .500 last year and this year they are currently 13 games over… so at the second half rate of the last two years they would finish this year with something like 78 wins.

Andrew
Member
Andrew
3 years 3 months ago

They also went 34-19 in June and July last year. Why doesn’t that factor into your projection?

I don’t have a lot of faith in the Pirates keeping this up either… mainly because I’ve been conditioned to think that way. But aside from regressing the pitching performances, it’s hard to make an objective case against it.

Hank G.
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Hank G.
3 years 3 months ago

We took them seriously last year about this time. It didn’t work out so well.

DJAnyReason
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DJAnyReason
3 years 3 months ago

On May 30, 2012, the Pirates were 25-25. Granted, they had just won 4 of 5, but anyone who “took them seriously” 365 days ago didn’t have any rational basis for doing so.

You’re confusing May 30 with June 30.

DJAnyReason
Guest
DJAnyReason
3 years 3 months ago

To revise and extend, so its clear I’m not just playing gotcha, there is an actual difference here. At 53 games in 2012, the Pirates were 1 game over .500. At 53 games in 2013, the Pirates are 13 games over. That’s 12 wins in the bank.

Even if we project the remaining 109 games for the 2013 Pirates to follow the same path as the last 109 for the 2012 Pirates, the Pirates still finish 1 game above .500. Yes, that’s shy of 90 wins, but the exact-same-109-projection is silly and dumb and the first 53 games of 2013 means we should expect a better path over the remaining 109 in 2013 than the last 109 of 2012.

Iron
Guest
Iron
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah… if you take today’s date. But take, say, the all-star break last year where they were 11 games over .500. Much later in the season so you’d expect the projection to be even more valid. You’d project them to win something like 90 games. But they won 79.

Now, just because they have done this the last couple years doesn’t mean it is not random. But I am inclined to believe, until shown otherwise, that these guys wear down, lack depth, something.

Andrew
Member
Andrew
3 years 3 months ago

Why would you be inclined to believe that, though? Slightly related data point: of the five current Pirate starting pitchers, only A.J. Burnett was in his current role as of last year’s ASB. Why would this team “wear down” because that team “wore down”?

And, as I mentioned above, why does the same theory not apply to the coming months? Aka if the Pirates are a team that “always dominates the summer months” because last year they went 34-19 in June and July, will they be 28 games over .500 going into August this year?

Clayton Thompson
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Clayton Thompson
3 years 3 months ago

This is off topic, but check out the standings page for the Braves. They’re predicted to win 36 games the rest of the way and have basically the second worst schedule in the NL. Is this right?

BigSteve
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BigSteve
3 years 3 months ago

The Braves ROS projection must be screwed up on the Standings page. It has them playing .325 ball the rest of the way.

Darren
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Darren
3 years 3 months ago

The Pirates have played more games against teams under .500 than any other team in baseball. I dont think this is baked into the Projected Standings here at Fangraphs, but it needs to be noted before we predict a playoff spot.

Another Cardinal Fan
Guest
Another Cardinal Fan
3 years 3 months ago

ESPN shows the Pirates slightly below average in strength of schedule.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rpi/_/sort/sos

Brewers lead the way. Having three .600+ teams in the division will do that.

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

The Pirates have held their own during the recent home and home series with the Tigers. Some consider the Tigers a good team.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 3 months ago

The Tigers are definitely a good team, but don’t rely on a 4-game home-and-home pitting any two teams as proof of anything. WAAAAAY too small a smaple to be meaningful.

stich09
Member
stich09
3 years 3 months ago

They had the toughest opening month in baseball based on last years win pct.

Merkle's Boner
Guest
Merkle's Boner
3 years 3 months ago

And the Pirates are 14-7 versus teams with winning records.

RaiseItPirates
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RaiseItPirates
3 years 3 months ago

Perhaps the Pirates have played more teams with sub .500 records because they’ve beaten those teams and those losses are contributing to their losing records? It would be interesting to see opponents records with the Pirate games removed.

Zachd
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Zachd
3 years 3 months ago

Dave, good article. I also am a believer in the Pirates this year, but I have a question for you. I am just curious how much weight we should put into this year’s performance at this point vs. the rest of the season projections. I realize that Zips and Steamer take the season’s numbers into consideration for their projections, but it still seems like sometimes the projections don’t adjust far enough for what seems like a change in skill. What are your thoughts on this?

Tim A
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Tim A
3 years 3 months ago

Did they make the playoffs the last winning season, or was it the one before?

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

The Pirates made the playoffs after their last winning season.

JRoth
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JRoth
3 years 3 months ago

It was actually the last winning season, the one before and the one before that. Those Leyland/Bonds teams were pretty good.

szielinski
Member
Member
szielinski
3 years 3 months ago

I tried to concisely say: The last winning season the Pirates had had also put them into the playoffs. But I failed to write what I meant to convey.

Don
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Don
3 years 3 months ago

Yes, it was the year Atlanta beat them in the NLCS when Sid Bream scored the winning run in the 9th of game 7.

Ben
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Ben
3 years 2 months ago

You just HAD to bring that up…
Guess I’m spending the weekend soothing those re-opened wounds.

Joe
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Joe
3 years 3 months ago

I wonder what the results would be if you went in the “way back machine” and applied this logic to the Pirates last year at the same time?

JRoth
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JRoth
3 years 3 months ago

Or if one went in a “way-back machine” and saw that this comment had already been made repeatedly right in this thread.

Last year at this time, the Pirates started Matt Hague at 1B, Casey McGehee at 3B, and Rod Barajas behind the plate. Kind of a different group of players from today.

Jaker
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Jaker
3 years 3 months ago

Neil Walker being back is a veritable boost as well. Looking good for the post-season.

Mike C.
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Mike C.
3 years 3 months ago

Read an excellent article from Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects :

In it, it talks about how Pirates pitchers like Locke, Gomez have high xFIPs, but won’t regress as much as everyone would expect.

Basically, most of the Pirates starters are high groundball rate pitchers (the soon to pitching Morton included) + an excellent infield defense = less regression.

marlins12
Guest
marlins12
3 years 3 months ago

I don’t see what’s so bad about their rotation that other posters are making fun of on here.

A.J. Burnett has been rather dominant ever since joining the Pirates last year.
Wandy Rodriguez has five consecutive years with an ERA under 4.

Why are these two guys being made fun of at this point?

Liriano is a wildcard who always seem to underachieve.

For what it’s worth, the Pirates are having a lot of success the past couple of years with pitchers who have “underachieved” based on peripherals.

I really can’t think of a GM who has done a better job of buying low/selling high in trades/signings with his pitching in recent years than what Neal Huntington has done.

Steve Z
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

I really can’t think of a GM who has done a better job of buying low/selling high in trades/signings with his pitching in recent years than what Neal Huntington has done.

Some Pirates fans spent much of the off-season calling for or predicting Huntington’s ouster. Not so much these days.

CabreraDeath
Member
CabreraDeath
3 years 3 months ago

Including Wilbur and Charlie Wilmoth, two contributors to a site that a lot of Pirate fans go to.

I haven’t seen a retraction from either.

szielinski
Member
Member
szielinski
3 years 3 months ago

They don’t need to retract their analysis. They only need to admit that they were wrong to claim that Huntington will not be good enough to lead the organization. They made their case and their analysis was not mindlessly wrong or inappropriate. And if the Pirates falter late in 2013 as they had the past two seasons, Charlie and Wilbur will again find supporters for the views they expressed this past off-season.

Kosstic518
Guest
Kosstic518
3 years 3 months ago

There has been a ton of Huntington hate from Wilbur on BucsDugout and PiratesProspects. Charlie had somewhat turned sour on Huntington within the last year, but he hasn’t been nearly as anti-Huntington as Wilbur.

Neither have made many comments recently that I’m aware of regarding Huntington in posts (maybe they have within threads but I obviously haven’t read every comment on the site), but at this point I think it is pretty clear that almost everybody underestimated the hole the Pirates were in when Huntington took over and how long it would take to fix. No one for over a decade and a half could figure out how to fix the Pirates, but Huntington seems to be on the right track. He deserves a ton of credit.

Brendan McFadden
Guest
Brendan McFadden
3 years 3 months ago

I think that’s an unfair characterization. They were reasonably critical and leaned towards not retaining NH, etc. That stands in stark contrast to some of the far less nuanced Pirates ‘analysis’ and commentary in much of the Pittsburgh, which seemed to insist that almost everything the FO had done was terrible.

I’d be curious as to what exactly you feel they should retract?

imadushbag
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imadushbag
3 years 3 months ago

c death are you butt hurt cause you are banned from bucsdugout? it seems that way, as you obviously lurk there.

Bill
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Bill
3 years 3 months ago

Dan Duquette comes to mind. But yeah, Huntington has done a very good job. I’d kind of like to see them make a move for Lee or somebody this year, but at the same time, I don’t want to see them mortgage their future. It should be bright.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
3 years 3 months ago

We are family…….

yaboynate
Member
yaboynate
3 years 3 months ago

The Pirates may make the playoffs, finish with a winning record, or even win the world series.

I still will never take them seriously.

ibid
Guest
ibid
3 years 3 months ago

Nor they you, Yaboy. Do you mind if I call you ‘Yaboy’?

LaLoosh
Guest
LaLoosh
3 years 3 months ago

Grilli has been absolutely ridiculous.

Roto Wizard
Member
Roto Wizard
3 years 3 months ago

Even ridiculous doesn’t do his numbers justice.

Utah Dave
Guest
Utah Dave
3 years 3 months ago

I’ve been a Pirates fan since Clemente. As much as I want to see them break .500 and make the playoffs, it’s still too soon for me to feel comfortable on either count. Watching the last two collapses causes me concern. But I would also say I think this team is much more solid in the SP and RP areas. Russell Martin has been a godsend when compared to Rod Barajas or Chris Snyder. Starters need to go further in games. Grilli and Melancon can’t sustain this pace (obviously). SS is a black hole. I do think there is good picthing help in AAA. James McDonald is NOT going to contribute to this team.

D
Guest
D
3 years 3 months ago

Reminds me of the 2011 Braves; below league average in offense, good-but-not-dominating rotation, but lights-out bullpen. Same questions with regards to bullpen holding up late season.

snack man
Guest
snack man
3 years 3 months ago

Ah, early season Liriano, he’s a really great pitcher, isn’t he. Come June 15 or so we’ll start hearing him talk about dead arm and then it’s up to the GM/manager where it goes from there. If he could pitch every 10 days, he would be amazing all year long.

Bob
Guest
Bob
3 years 3 months ago

Yeah that’s a great point. If only he suffered some random accident to anything but his pitching arm, so that he was held back, and his fourth start of the season came early in June. That’d be great.

PackBob
Guest
PackBob
3 years 3 months ago

The idea that because the Pirate teams of the last two years faded in the second half means that this year’s team will do the same, as some are suggesting, is pretty weird. It’s like saying because we had a rainy spring last year, we will have a rainy spring this year.

KDL
Guest
KDL
3 years 3 months ago

Considering the changes in roster, you’re basically suggesting that the weather this spring will be the same as last spring even though you moved from Maine to Georgia.

Matt
Guest
Matt
3 years 3 months ago

As a Tiger fan who has watched the Pirates the last four days, can’t help but think their use of shifts and defensive positioning has helped keep that babip so low.

Edgar Martinez' Tequila Worm
Guest
Edgar Martinez' Tequila Worm
3 years 3 months ago

Once Clint gets them over the top they’ll have to fire Hurdle before he torpedoes them in the playoffs

Josh Donaldson's #1 Fan
Guest
Josh Donaldson's #1 Fan
3 years 3 months ago

Honestly, I don’t understand all the love for Pittsburgh. Their offense is basically McCutchen, Marte, Walker, Jones, Martin, and Alvarez. And their pitching is only average. Sounds more like a 78-83 win team. I’ll be pulling for them, though.

Sean
Guest
Sean
3 years 3 months ago

Their pitching has certainly been much better than average so far. #2 ERA in the majors, #7 FIP, #8 xFIP, and by far the best high-leverage numbers in the majors in the third most high-leverage innings. Whether they can sustain it is one thing, especially relying on the pen as much as they do (though there are a few more nasty arms available in the minors for that, and I’m not talking about Cole and Taillon), but, using the present tense as you did, their pitching is currently excellent.

SprayingMantis
Guest
SprayingMantis
3 years 3 months ago

And Snider. That gives you seven, auto-out Barmes or (preferably) Mercer is 8th, then a pitcher. That ain’t too bad.

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 3 months ago

Wait, the Pirates have 8 offensive players and you seem to believe it’s a bad thing that only 6 of them contribute to the offense? I could argue about those six, but how many NL teams have more than six? I can’t think of any.

DG Lewis
Guest
DG Lewis
3 years 3 months ago

You forgot to mention that Snider is putting up an OPS+ of 112 in RF, so I think that counts as contributing to the offense.

So in other words, their offense is only seven out of eight starters. As opposed to, say, the Reds, whose offense is basically Votto, Choo, and Phillips.

Or if you want to be analytical about it (this is Fangraphs, after all), the Pirates have more starting position players with OPS+ above 100 (6) than either the Reds or Cardinals (5 each); the Pirates have more players with >50 PAs with OPS+ above 100 (10 of 13) than either the Reds (5 of 12) or Cardinals (6 of 10).

If anything, I would say that the numbers indicate that the Pirates’ offense has been less concentrated among a small number of players than either the Reds or Cardinals, which makes them less vulnerable to an injury or slump. Votto is putting up an insane 173 OPS+. A fastball off the hand could do serious damage to the Reds’ offense.

Cheapskate
Guest
Cheapskate
3 years 3 months ago

I usually enjoy browsing through the comments here – the brains of this site’s consumers routinely amaze me. However, recently I feel like there should be a basic “article comprehension” quiz after each piece that one needs to pass before they’re allowed to say anything…

Mike
Guest
Mike
3 years 3 months ago

I think the difference this year for the Pirates is depth. Should anybody but Wandy or AJ regress, options are available. Morton and Karstens aren’t flashy but they get the job done: I.e. 6 innings and still within1-2 runs. Offense probably won’t average 10 runs a game but they are due to improve. I’d happily take a 90 win season just to get the monkey of losing off their backs.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
3 years 3 months ago

The most interesting thing from this article to me (and that’s not an insult, the entire post is well done and interesting) is that the Tigers lead in wOBA differential and yet have had mediocre W-L results. I think there’s another article there somewhere, and it’s one I’d like to read. :)

rich
Guest
rich
3 years 2 months ago

The Bucs are better because they’ve learned how to win. The offense has been average at best.So thatis the key this team has the potential to lead the NL in homeruns ,I believe if it picks up ,which it should, the Bucs might win 95…
The ESPN baseball so- called experts are waiting and I think hoping that the pirates fail again ,so they can massage their already inflated egos…

Josh Robbins
Guest
Josh Robbins
3 years 2 months ago

you have to learn to proofread your work. i stopped reading after the first paragraph. The Pirates are for real because of the bullpen.

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