Pittsburgh Pirates using doubles to fuel offensive success


The Pittsburgh Pirates offense has drastically improved in May with impressive bouncebacks by Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison among others. For all of the flash of Starling Marte bombs and Jung Ho Kang timely RBIs, for all of the balls Pedro Alvarez deposits in seaworthy vessels, the key to the offensive output has been the double.

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After last night’s action, the Pittsburgh Pirates rank tied for fourth overall in doubles in all of baseball (92) while ranking fifth in MLB in doubles per game (1.96). Both are good for second in the National League. (Of course, the dreaded Cardinals lead the NL in both metrics) The per-game number is a considerable improvement over the 2014 number, in which the Bucs ranked 12th in baseball with a 1.70 doubles per game. Perhaps the best way to illustrate how much the Pirates have relied on the double is this: in April the Pirates slugged 38 doubles while in May that number has jumped to 54 in a comparable amount of plate appearances. For an offense with emerging and established power threats, the double cannot and should not be overlooked. Neil Walker and Harrison co-lead the team in doubles. Here is a complete look:


RkPosNamePAABH2B ▾
12BNeil Walker#1871714513
23BJosh Harrison1851734613
3LFStarling Marte1901724811
4CFAndrew McCutchen1981694611
5RFGregory Polanco*1741583910
6CFrancisco Cervelli136122397
71BPedro Alvarez*162142347
8IFJung Ho Kang116104327
9SSJordy Mercer134122234
10CChris Stewart5249133
11UTSean Rodriguez6259162
12UTCorey Hart403881
13OFAndrew Lambo* (15-day dl)272511
Team Totals1789161440992
Rank in 15 NL teams772

One major surprise here is Gregory Polanco. In his debut 2014 season, Polanco accounted for only nine doubles all year, yet has already eclipsed that number with ten on the young season. Getting runners into scoring position with a single swing has done wonders for the club, as they have improved their runs-per-game from 4.04 in  April to 4.44 runs in May. Some may see that as an incremental increase, but thinking back to the close games the Pirates lost in April, that .40 difference can mean quite a few more wins.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a great chance to end up with multiple hitters with 40+ doubles, and we may just see a great offense evolve accordingly.