Are The Pirates Going To Be The MLB Strikeout Kings?


Garrett Jones has 62, Andrew McCutchen 57, Ronny Cedeno 56, Lastings Milledge 46, Ryan Doumit 45, and Ryan Church has 35 strikeouts.  Does it scare you when you see the strikeouts piling up for the young Bucs?  I wanted to see just how bad it was when compared to year’s past.  I was surprised.

 As a team, the Pirates have struckout 612 times.   It’s not the worst in baseball, but it certainly feels that way.  Sabermetrics tells us that strikeouts, for hitters, are not nearly as bad for the Pirates highly futile offensive attack as many yinzers think.  

The concept is that a strikeout is easily the most frustrating component of the game, especially when growing up playing the game.  It’s made into a big deal.  Sure its the second worst outcome outside of a double or even triple play.  But with all things considered, it really is just another out right? 

So as Pedro Alvarez continues to put up a high K%, remember that tidbit.   The thing that I have been watching with Pedro is this….he has made contact with just about 60 percent of all pitches.  MLB average is currently 81 percent.   Pedro’s contact percentage will improve, and that awful strikeout rate will as well.  How much?  I don’t think it will be a drastic improvement in K/rate, especially when batting in the Pirates lineup.  He still has work to do.  I just hope he improves enough so that the Diamondbacks and their 783 strikeouts are impossible for the Bucs to catch.

Taking a look at FanGraphs last night, we noticed that while Jones has struckout the most on the club, he is seeing less pitches in the zone than last season while his contact percentage has increased. 

Compared to last season, Pirates fans have seen GFJ’s  strikeout numbers actually improve by nearly four percent.  McCutchen and Milledge have each improved slightly, around half a percentage point.  The numbers are about a wash for Cedeno and Doumit.  Cedeno has struckout about 1.5% more than he did last season.  Doumit has struckout a little more than last year, but has improved his walk percentage as well.  Ronny isn’t certain

Ryan Church is the one that really stands out with his 24% strikeout rate.  It is up about eight points, while he is walking less and less.  His walk rate has went down over three percentage points lower than last season. 

As you know, the Pirates have the worst team batting average in MLB after last nights game in Houston.  The Bucs dropped to  .236 as a team.  So as one would expect, the Pirates also have the fewest hits in MLB with just 648.   It certainly adds up to some ugly offensive performances like last night against the Astros Wandy Rodriguez.  God that was an ugly game.  But don’t let it bring you down.  Did you know the Astros have hit 50 homers, the Pirates 53.  See the Astros really do suck.   Just never against the Pirates it seems.

But sure it is frustrating to see the Bucs strikeout so much, but remember it’s actually not as bad as you thought.   It could be worse, GFJ (11)  or Doumit (10) could be grounding into a double play, which really gets your blood boiling.  Keep the faith Bucco fans, it’s getting better.  Take another drink. 

Stats from FanGraphs

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  • John

    Tom,
    Excellent article. They way I understand the new statistical logic for offense (and I may be wrong about this) delaying making outs is of paramount importance, while batting average is not as important as on base percentage. These two statistical categories seem to be correlated.
    Though I do not keep stats, it seemed to me that for the Houston series so far, the Buccos have tatooed quite a few balls, but have not gotten as favorable results as the Houston batters. Houston seemed to have slopped some hits and had gotten more runs from them.
    The ball does seem to have eyes at times, but this statistic is called “chance” I think.
    By the way, I am familiar with the term “sabermetrics”, but what is a “yinzer”?

    • http://rumbunter.com Tom Smith

      John,
      You have summed up the Houston series. Absolutely nailed it man.

      Now to answer your very good question. My basic definition of a yinzer in Pirates terms and as used in the article, would be a fan that is still in love with Jack Wilson. A loose description of a yinzer is the rich language used in the Burgh such as, “Yinz goin’ dahn to da Pirates game tanight?” A website which does a much better job describing the Pittsburgh language is this one http://www.pittsburghese.com/