Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense must reach base more often


It’s no secret. To win ballgames, you need men on base. Does it matter how you reach base? No. No it does not. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team’s poor offensive performance has been the main storyline early this season – and for good reason.

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Pittsburgh ranks 27th in Major League Baseball with a .269 on-base percentage, 22nd with a .220 average and 20th with a .354 slugging percentage. What has all of that culminated in? A mere 35 runs across 10 games – which ranks as the fifth-worst measure in the entire National League.

Thankfully, for the Pirates, two of the four worse teams are in the National League Central. The Cincinnati Reds have one run fewer than the Bucs, while the Milwaukee Brewers are tied for the worst mark in the NL, tallying just 26 runs on the season.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup with Milwaukee at home, Clint Hurdle‘s club is hoping to build off the offensive momentum gained in the series-opening win in which the Pirates tallied six runs. Of those half-a-dozen runs, just two came via the long-ball, a promising sign.

Despite picking up the win, the team drew just two walks on the night – striking out seven times and leaving six on-base as a club. So far this season, Pittsburgh has drawn just 16 walks, which ranks as the worst mark in the National League and the second-worst in all of the big leagues. By contrast, the league-leading Red Sox have drawn 48 base-on-balls this season.

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Needless to say, the Bucs need to adjust their approach at the dish if they want to move up the rankings in the division. With the bats in that lineup, on-base percentage needs to be a big focus, especially with the likes of players like Pedro Alvarez in the mix, who is noted for struggling in that regard.

Last season, the Pirates drew the fifth-most walks in Major League Baseball, helping culminate in a .330 OBP – which was just three points under the league’s best mark. What did that lead to? Nothing much, just the fourth-highest total of runs in the National League and a second-consecutive playoff berth for fans in the Steel City.

After struggling in their first 10 games, it’s time for this cast of Bucs to get back to the basics and take what’s given to them. If they can do that, then get ready for this team to start living up to the preseason hype.

Next: Gregory Polanco gearing up for a big 2015