Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stats, Dang Stats, and the Truth...

OK, we know the pitching has been the pits and the hitting out of this world. We were curious how this year's version of the Bucs compared to last season's squad at the All-Star break, just to see if the team's improved. Here's the hitting line:

Batting 2008 - .262, 98 HR, 460 runs, 604 K-287 BB
Batting 2007 - .253, 70 HR, 376 runs, 612 K-254 BB

We tip our hat to Don Long - more power, a lot more runs, a little better eye. That's no urban legend.

But one thing that is an urban legend is the 2 out, runners in scoring position (RISP) stat. The Bucs are hitting .290 this year and hit .280 last year with 2 out RISP. So that's not a sudden development. Pittsburgh's been a pretty clutch team the past couple of seasons, hitting about 30 points over its average.

The pitching? Here's its overall line:

2008 - 853.1 innings, 5.24 ERA, 528 runs, 983 hits, 548 K, 388 BB
2007 - 796.2 innings, 4.51 ERA, 427 runs, 862 hits, 533 K, 274 BB

What sticks out? How about 100 more runs, 100 more hits and 100 more walks given up this year? And it's not like 2007 was a banner year for Pirate pitching. It's no surprise that you can lay it all on the starters, this being a case where stats don't lie.

Starters 2008 - 515.1 innings, 5.64 ERA, 633 hits, 312 K, 234 BB
Starters 2007 - 524.2 innings, 4.37 ERA, 577 hits, 326 K, 170 BB

Ouch! Remarkably, in 6 less games, the 2007 starters put up more innings, had more K's, and gave up way fewer runs, hits and walks.

But the bad news is that last season, the rotation posted a 5.44 post All-Star Game ERA, which was the worst in MLB. So it's been a whole year now that Pittsburgh's starters have bottomed out, and that's not a very reassuring thought.

Bullpen 2008 - 338 innings, 4.63 ERA, 350 hits, 236 K, 154 BB
Bullpen 2007 - 271.2 innings, 4.77 ERA, 285 hits, 207 K, 104 BB

Broken down by inning, the hit and K averages are about the same. The current crew is a little wilder, but it comes down to less than one extra free pass per nine innings. So the bullpens have been a wash - except for the 66-2/3 innings more this year's guys have had to work. We wonder if they get overtime pay?

So the verdict? The offense is much better, the rotation much worse, and the bullpen is the same. Pittsburgh has given up 101 runs more this year than last and scored 84 more; that's 17 runs below last season's mark. It should count its blessings that its performed as well as it has.

The numbers tell the tale. Pittsburgh is no better this year than last, no matter how much lipstick you put on it. And you still don't want to break them up?

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