Expect More Action From Pirates On The Bases
Sep 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) and center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) and right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) react in the outfield after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. The Pirates won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates are fortunate to have one of the fastest outfields in all of Major League Baseball with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco set to be the starting group when the 2015 season commences. While the trio could not necessarily show this off as much as fans probably would have liked to see last year, manager Clint Hurdle said earlier this week he would like the Pirates to be a more aggressive team on the base paths.
There are probably several reasons behind this, but one of the main ones has to be the what being aggressive on the bases did for the Kansas City Royals last season. The Royals were not a powerful offensive team, but their way around the diamond allowed them to first make the playoffs and second make their way to the World Series. According to SportingCharts.com, the Royals stole .94 bases per game last season. That is nearly .10 more than the second place Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates did post a respectable .64 stolen bases per game, but considering Marte is a solid base stealer and McCutchen has proven he can swipe bags with relative ease, it is surprising the Pirates were ninth in the majors in stolen bases. Polanco struggled at the plate during his rookie campaign, but with a year under his belt and more experience, he should be on base more often and that will increase his stolen bases. The Pirates will need to grab the occasional base to help keep out of double play position. Unfortunately for the Bucs, if Pedro Alvarez does stay on the team, he is basically an all-or-nothing player and hitting into DPs is something he tends to do. He only had 12 last season, but that number was low because he missed time with an injury. Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata are also susceptible to hitting into DPs.
The Pirates do not possess the speed of the Royals, but if they can truly become a more aggressive team on the bases and push themselves into the upper-echelon of the majors in that category, they should be able to score more runs and keep innings going longer in 2015.