Evaluating the Pittsburgh Pirates month of April: by the numbers
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the first month of the major league season with a 12-10 record. That’s a .545 win percentage, which should net the team just a passing grade. However, with Andrew McCutchen slumping, Mark Melancon not pitching like his normal self, Charlie Morton going down to injury, and the offense as a whole playing below what’s expected of it, 12-10 doesn’t look too shabby.
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Among Pirates’ players, Neil Walker leads the team in batting average (.288),OBP (.333), hits (23), and doubles (eight), while Starling Marte leads the team in home runs (six), RBIs (17), total bases (38), slugging percentage (.521) and OPS (.821). Gerrit Cole led the starting staff in wins (four), ERA (1.76), strikeouts (35), and innings pitched (30.2). Jeff Locke had the fewest walks on the staff (seven), while Francisco Liriano gave up the fewest hits (11) and had the lowest WHIP (0.95). Out of the relief corps, Rob Scahill had the lowest ERA at a perfect 0.00 while Tony Watson had the lowest WHIP (0.77), the most strikeouts (13), and the fewest walks (zero).
Walker and Marte are clearly the offensive standouts for the Pirates so far, as the team has been lacking offensively so far this season. Marte’s average is lower than it should be and his strikeouts are awfully high, but his production has been great. Walker got hot towards the end of the month and is performing very well offensively for a second basemen, as he always has. Cole is pitching like the ace of the staff like many people have expected him to become, and the starting staff as a whole has been a huge strength for this team.
The Pirates (12-10) currently sit in third place in the National League Central, 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (15-6) and one game behind the Chicago Cubs (12-8). Heading into Thursday night’s action, the Pirates rank ninth in the National League in runs scored (89), 12th in hits (167), sixth in home runs (18), 12th in total bases (261), 12th in average (.230), and 13th in OBP (.280).
…with Andrew McCutchen slumping, Mark Melancon not pitching like his normal self, Charlie Morton going down to injury, and with the offense as a whole playing below what’s expected of it, 12-10 doesn’t look too shabby.
The Pirates haven’t been a very good offensive team so far this season. They rank in the bottom third of the NL in most offensive categories. Most of the players on the team aren’t playing up to expectations, including McCutchen, Josh Harrison, and Jordy Mercer. If these players improve like they’re expected to, the offense, in turn, will greatly improve.
Heading into Thursday night, Gregory Polanco ranks third in the NL in steals with seven, and he’s the only Pirate that ranks high in the NL in an offensive category. Gerrit Cole ranks tenth in the NL in ERA and ninth in strikeouts, while A.J. Burnett ranks eleventh in ERA (1.80). Both of these pitchers will be greatly important for the Pirates moving forward.
At the end of the day, the only number that really matters is wins. But the month of April as a whole provided us with some early insight into how the team might do this year. Someone like Josh Harrison might not come close to replicating his 2014 season, while Vance Worley needs to turn things around in order to return to the form he showed in 2014. In any case, it’s still early, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were 10-16 at the start of May last season. 12-10 is much better than 10-16.