The Three Unluckiest Pittsburgh Pirates


Jun 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Two of the three unluckiest Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ike Davis (left) celebrates with center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) after McCutchen hit a two run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Three Unluckiest Pittsburgh Pirates of 2014 will be rather difficult to guess.  A lot of the Pirates have suffered some unluckiness in this wacky season.  The Pirates have seen the rotation suffer key injuries, their slugger came down with throwing disease and then a fractured foot, and their superstar missed time from a broken rib–that happened from simply swinging a bat.

Of course, the old saying goes, well actually, the saying that popped up first when I googled lucky says—“the harder I work, the luckier I get.”  So what Pirates players have been unlucky?

Without further ado, The Three Unluckiest Pittsburgh Pirates :

2014 Unluckiest Pittsburgh Pirates

First baseman, Ike Davis.

Aug 29, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison (5) and first baseman Ike Davis (15) react after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Davis was picked up from the New York Mets to be the left=handed part of the first base platoon for the Bucs. Davis has the lowest Batting Average Balls in Play number among the Bucs at .267.

Despite having a career high line drive rate, Davis has not been able to get those line drives to find grass in 2014.  His average is well under what the Pirates had hoped for when they picked him up, however, he still gets on base and Davis has dropped his groundball percentage by almost five points.  Hell, #WeLikeIke even has a career low strikeout rate in 2014.

While it hasn’t paid off in the batter’s box this season for Davis, if you believe Robert Arthur’s Breakout Candidate Thesis Ike Davis is at the top of his chart.  It’s a system that has consistently identified breakout candidates, and it shows that Davis is ready to hit it big next year.

Just missed*:  Brent Morel with a .214 BABIP and a 29.6% line drive rate.  But c’mon, we don’t feel that Morel qualifies.

Jun 27, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Brandon Cumpton (58) delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Cumpton, Pitcher

One stat that we find interesting is called FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching.  The measurement looks at a pitchers performance on what that pitcher controls the most–the number of strikeouts he has, the number of walks he has allowed, and the number of bombs he has surrendered over the season.

Brandon Cumpton is going to finish with the highest ERA of his career.  Last year he was a dynamo in pitching 30 crucial innings and this year he has pitched 70 innings and has an ERA near 5.  But when you look at the considerable gap between that ERA of 4.89 and his FIP of 3.21 he can be proud knowing that it’s the largest on the team.

The bad guys have a BABIP of .338 over Cumpton’s 70 innings which could only be beat by the ten innings of gas-can-spewing that Ernesto Frieri produced for the Pirates.

Brandon Cumpton also struggled with runners on base.   The 63 percent strand rate for Cumpton is the weakest among staff qualifers–if you are interested in who didn’t qualify ( and why wouldn’t you be?) Cumpton’s strand rate could only be topped by Frieri, Casey Sadler and of course another gas can wielding reliever–southpaw Travis Snider.

Aug 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) reacts after getting hit with a pitch in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen, Reigning NL MVP

McCutchen was unlucky enough to be the biggest star in the Pirates lineup when Ernesto Frieri was pitching.  Frieri only pitched ten innings during his time with the Pirates in 2014 and McCutchen was standing behind him in center field.  The right hander threw inside and broke Paul Goldschmidt’s left hand.  Unfortunately, Kirk Gibson felt that McCutchen had to the pay the price for the injury to the Diamondbacks superstar.  It was ugly and MLB did nothing about it.

Who knows if it had an impact or not, but McCutchen later fractured his rib–presumably while swinging his bat.  Yeh, now that is some serious torque–and some really poor luck.

But since coming back from the injury on August 19–Andrew McCutchen has been on fire with a  305/345/514 and 143 wRC+ since coming off the disabled list August 19.

And that has nothing to do with being unlucky.