Thirty five games into their season, the Pittsburgh Pirates won’t go away.
10. Two words.
Clint Hurdle has officially arrived in Pittsburgh. The impact has been measurable. Clint has some work to do,but if the first thirty five games are any indication of what lies ahead, the 2011 season will be far from boring.
Our favorite sign is this team doesn’t roll over. Ever. The eighth inning on Mother’s Day proved that fact once and for all to me.
9. Agressive Baserunning.
The Pirates agressive baserunning has curtailed recently. And that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, some bad baserunning has replaced it. We had a good discussion during the Fisher House golf outing yesterday with some friends. It was all about the absolutely horrendous baserunning the Pirates have shown and this article sums it up rather well. Check it out:
Conclusion? We think Andrew McCutchen was the best baserunner on a poor running team last season, but this year he doesn’t seem to be improving on the basepaths despite his great speed. Maybe that will change because it’s frustrating as hell to watch.
Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez got off to a terrible start in terms of strikeouts. Ten games into the season, Walker led the majors with 15 strikeouts, Pedro was right behind with 14. Thankfully those trends have improved. (it’s all relative)
Pedro now has 35, Walker now has 34, and McCutchen is third on the team with 27. Dexter Fowler has struckout 41 times to lead the NL.
The Pirates have a pile of strikeouts. 287 to be exact and that pile of K’s only trails the Padres who have whiffed 292 times.
It’s still not great, but the torrid has slowed for the young Pirates hitters. Another sign that the coaches are working with these players and the young Bucs are taking the teaching to the plate and it’s having an impact.
The St. Louis Cardinals have struckout the least in the NL at 212.
Early in the season Pirates pitchers allowed so many walks, especially in the first ten games, that it was amazing the team was able to remain around .500. This is another trend that has improved for the Pirates.
Bucco pitchers have allowed 119 walks in 313 innings. It puts the Bucs right in the middle of the pack in the National League. The best staff is Philly who has walked just 90 batters, while the Mets have given up the most with 130.
The strikeout numbers have improved and that ability to get swings and misses has helped pitchers repeatedly pitch their way out of jams. But don’t get estatic, the Bucs still only have 221 strikeouts in 313 innings pitched. A large percentage comes from their bullpen.
Only the Washington Nationals have struckout less batters. It’s dangerous to us.
6. Charlie Morton
What a different pitcher.
He has thrown a fist pump.
He has had to learn what to do when receiving a standing ovation by the PNC Park faithful. We also saw Morton flash a smile or two in the clubhouse.
It was cool.
The Pittsburgh Pirates fielding has been quite awful in 2011. The stats show 25 errors on the season. Only the Astros and Cards have more.
Recently the fielding has improved. The funny thing is….wouldn’t you know with their fielding improved, the Bucs have been on a three-game winning streak, have won six-of-eight, it’s crazy how good fielding and winning go together.
Remember the low strikeout totals from the pitching staff? You don’t? Ok….the staff has just 221 K’s in 313 innings. So the emphasis on fielding must continue with that much contact by the Pirates pitching staff.
As you know, without solid fielding, this ballclub is doomed.
4. Joel Hanrahan.
What else needs said? He has been everything the position entails. Hanranator now has eleven saves in eleven save opportunities.
Hanrahan looks like a leader–just like his brother said in our story from last month: JOEL HANRAHAN IS THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN PITTSBURGH SPORTS.
As Hanrahan keeps this going in 2011, we’re rather certain he won’t be a secret much longer.
3. James McDonald.
What a shocker. If this continues, the Pirates front office will look like rock stars for stealing McDonald. In his past two starts, McDonald has pitched 12 innings, gave up just eight hits, struckout thirteen and allowed only two earned runs.
On the Pirates pregame the other day, many of his teammates said JMac is the Pirates player that reminded them most of Kenny Powers. Now that’s good stuff. McDonald with a mullet would rock.
2. Neil Walker
The Hometown Kid knows our pain. He has lived it too.
Walker is playing like a man that knows how just bad past Pirates regimes sucked the life from us.
Those poor baseballs don’t have a chance.
And checking in at number one, as we said after ten games.
1. Road Wins
Can this Pirates team win on the road was answered right out of the gate. If this team can win on the road, the Bucs are going to surprise.
Another solid road trip is now being followed up with three straight wins at PNC Park, Pirates fans have something not witnessed in a long time. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 18-17.
You might want to scream that fact from office/car/home/trailer/hotel windows today, yell it like a person struggling with terets for the past 18 years….just let it out. It’s ok to celebrate, after all the grieving.