Thursday, April 16, 2015

Buc Bats Remain Broken In 1-0 Loss & a Few Early Stats (Swings & Misses, BABIP, Aye Carumba!)

The season began with questions about the rotation and faith in the offense. Talk about your role reversal. Frankie Liriano celebrated his daughter Natalie's arrival by pitching a gem, but a hung slider that Rajai Davis yanked into the first row of the LF bleachers was the difference in a 1-0 game.

The Pirates are putting the ball in play - they only whiffed twice yesterday - but not finding any grass as they had just two hits, back-to-back two out singles in the fourth by Cutch and The Kid. The only other runner was Cutch in the first frame, when he was bopped by a pitch. He was erased, upon review, trying to steal, and that was the sum of the Bucco attack against Alfredo Simon and Joakim Soria yesterday.

The Pirates have been aggressive at the plate this year, maybe a lttle more aggressive than is healthy.They haven't drawn a walk since Saturday, and their .255 OBP is easily the NL's worst.

The club is getting their hacks in; the 50.5% swing rate is third highest in the majors. They're suffering from a double whammy - the swing-and-miss rate of 12.1% is the highest in baseball, and their .250 BABIP when they do hit the ball is the lowest in the NL.

Time for Starling to crank it up (2013 Topps Foil series)

Time to panic? Well, not quite yet. Starling Marte's epic 18% swing-and-miss (and .133 BABIP), along with Pedro's 14%+, help drive that whiff stat.

The mix of balls in play - 20% liners, 47% grounders and 33% flies - compares to last year, so that's not the culprit. Point your finger at batted balls in play; in 2014, the percentage of balls that dropped in for the Pirates was .307. The Bucs may be expected to regress from that a tad (the league average was .300 in 2014) this season, especially with the BABIP so far this year in an all-around offensively challenged league at .280. Still, a correction up the ladder from the current .250 mark is due.

Early season problems? Sure, but nothing new. Jump-starting El Coffee and Starling, both who came out of Florida on a roll, would solve a lot of them, and a little more luck with those balls in play would, too. Seven of the Pirates 12 position players, including Cutch and Josh, are hitting .250 or less in the BABIP column. If the pitching holds up, the sticks, by the numbers, should come around.

(Statistics taken from Fangraphs)

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