Pittsburgh Pirates must draw more walks


The Pittsburgh Pirates must draw more walks if they want to continue seeing their offense improve.

In other words, the sky is blue.

At the time of this writing, the Pirates rank 13th out of 15th teams in the National League in free passes. Contrast this to 2014 in which the Pirates ended up with the highest total of walks in the National League with 120. This year the Bucs have accumulated a scant 114 walks, far below the baseball average of 138.

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So what gives? What is it about this offense, burgeoning in so many other metrics, that can’t draw walks? We can point to a few players in particular. One would think that the free-swinging big bull, Pedro Alvarez, would draw more walks than the 18 he has drawn thus far. Yet, pitchers have developed a book on Alvarez and know how to pitch him, and would rather take their chances. Starling Marte is having a career year by any measure, yet he too does not take many walks, drawing only 11 on the year for an abysmal 6.4% walk rate. As a team, the Pirates have a walk rate of 6.4%, according to Fangraphs, good enough to be tied with the lowly Philadelphia Phillies for second to last in the National League.

Just as we have previously talked about doubles being a key to the Pittsburgh Pirates offensive attack, so too can walks. Josh Harrison as the de facto leadoff hitter must endeavor himself to see a few more pitches. While no one will confuse Jhay for a typical lead-off guy, he should be drawing more than the six walks he sees himself with a quarter into the season. That’s a 3.5% walk rate.

The Pittsburgh Pirates right now are going through quite the power surge and it’s done wonders for them. Yet the real lasting value of this offense could come from getting on base via the walk.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates are a doubles machine