It was February 28, and Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle went on 93.7 The Fan and threw out a 95 win target, of sorts, for the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. The jokes rained down, and we jumped into the fray with this post:
"Holy Jumping Jingle Balls! Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle tossed around some numbers today on 93.7 The Fan."
"The Bucs skipper threw out the number 95, as in wins, and then mentioned that 95 would put the Bucs in a good place in 2013. Hell yeah it would, Skip! That would be…..umm, ….let’s add it up here… 16 more wins than the team tallied in 2012.Good lord, 90 wins would be incredible. But 95 as a target number? Clint aims high. Adding it up is what Hurdle did in the interview, pointing to some serious improvement leading to the jump in wins.Hurdle was on a serious roll, and cited discipline in the box adding three wins, being better in the running game adding three wins, controlling the opponent’s running game adding three wins, and something else that wasn’t quite defined and then he proclaimed… ….we’re at 15 wins right there, men, Hurdle said.Wow. If memory serves us right, Kevin McClatchy called for 92 wins a few years back and it’s still at least vaguely memorable to fans. Hurdle raised him three wins! Hurdle did it knowing the roster has numerous question marks. Gulp.Here is one of the quotes from the interview. When people ask me a number, 95 is the number I throw out there, and people go, ˜Wow, that’s a lot! And I go, yeah, you’re right, it’s a lot of games, I get it. But you know what? If we win 95, we’re going to be in a good place.”"
With the target firmly in place now, Let’s Go Bucs!
To fully enjoy the moment, here is the link to the interview 93.7 Listening back to what Hurdle said now is even more interesting. The team strikes out a lot – which isn’t a big change, but it got us to thinking.
The improvement in controlling the running game has been a major improvement. Not only in actual, real, truly existing numbers, but also in the mentality of the players.
Nothing could have sucked worse than watching team take free ninety after free ninety last season.
Regarding the improved plate discipline: The team sits at a walk rate of 7.6 in 2013, up a tick from 7.4 last year.
The Pirates have a strikeout rate of 21.9 percent in 2013. Last year the Bucs swung and missed at a 22.5 percent clip.
The Bucs have 88 stolen bases in 2013. The team stole 73 all of last season. They have also improved their TOOTBLAN numbers, as well. The more advanced numbers such as outside the zone swing percentage, outside the zone contact percentage, swinging strike and all of the other yummy goodness at Fangraphs show improvement, albeit minor ones, but improvement nonetheless.
Hurdle set a target of 95 wins. Most feel the team would be one win closer if he would have given up on the Jason Grilli closer tryout. They are right, it’s not time for tryouts; but that’s another post all together.
It could have been easy for Hurdle to dodge putting a win number on the board for all of us to ridicule. He didn’t – he threw a big, hairy, audacious goal out there for all to enjoy.
But who is laughing now? The team just needs to go 8-5 in the last thirteen to get there.