Can Pittsburgh Pirates Bats Pick Up Pace?

The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently twelve games over .500, and their offense has been up and down.  Last year, it was right around this time of the season when the Bucs offense started to heat up.

With the starting pitching being very banged up as of now, the Bucs had better hope for something similar to last year. I hate comparing things to last season, and hoping that things are similar to it, but the bats really came alive last June and July. If that happens to the Pirates again this season, there shouldn’t be much of a problem when it comes to winning 82 games, and maybe even making a push for the National League Central.

As of now, the Pirates offense isn’t even playing to it’s fullest potential.

Andrew McCutchen hasn’t come close to playing his best baseball. He only has seven home runs and 33 RBI and it was last June and July that he was putting up video game numbers.

Jun 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez is currently leading the team in home runs – by a good bit – and he hasn’t had one of his hot streaks yet where pitchers can’t get him out. He’s been hitting the ball well as of late, but we’ve still yet to see one of the Alvarez hot streaks that we see once or twice a month when he’s the hottest hitter in the league.

Neil Walker has the potential to be a 20-homer, .300 batting average player, but has struggled this season. Similar to McCutchen, he’ll get rolling here eventually and be one of the main producers on the Bucs.

Starling Marte was one of the hottest hitters in the league in late-April and early-May, and has cooled off a lot since then. Some fans are starting to get worried, but I have hope he’ll heat back up and light it up at the top of the order.

Jun 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) at bat against the Cincinnati Reds during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-4 in eleventh innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Martin is playing good baseball as of now, but can still heat up. He went on a roll in late-April, hitting five home runs in eight games and has only hit two homers since the start of May. His defense has been fantastic so far for the Pirates, but his bat can definitely improve, and it will at some point soon.

Garrett Jones has had somewhat of a quiet season so far, but is still third on the team in RBI. He only has six home runs, and hasn’t showed the power that we’ve seen in recent years. His at-bats have been cut down a lot more due to his platoon role with Gaby Sanchez, and if the two can of them can combine for thirty home runs, the team will be just fine.

May 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Travis Snider (23) reacts after striking out against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 1-0 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Snider has had some clutch hits for the Pirates, but is still stuck on two home runs. He has the power to hit twenty, which isn’t going to happen this season, but don’t be surprised if he goes on a roll here soon and starts hitting bombs over the Clemente Wall.

Jose Tabata was putting together a nice little season before an injury landed him on the disabled list. If he can put numbers up similar to the ones he did before he got hurt, that’ll be a huge surprise to Pirate fans, who have been getting impatient with Tabata the past couple of seasons.

I know most of the player breakdowns there sounded the same, but in reality, it’s the truth. Other than Marte, none of these players have maxed out when it comes to hitting.

Bottom line:

The offense hasn’t come close to hitting it’s peak yet this season. No players, with the exception of Marte in late-April/early-May, have had their best offensive streak. We know what McCutchen, Walker, Alvarez, and Jones are capable of doing, and they haven’t really done it yet. Once those guys get going, the team is going to be hot, and the offense will look the one we saw in 2012, when they led the MLB in home runs in June and July.

As I said earlier, the team was three games over .500 on this date last season. This year, they’re twelve games over .500.

With the starting pitching looking rough as of late due to injuries, the bats are going to need to step up soon if the team looks to stay in the race with St. Louis and Cincinnati. Some of the bats are going to start to roll, and I’m sure some are going to disappoint us, but this team is still a ways from playing their best baseball on the offensive side.

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