Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look at Early Offensive Stats

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Analysis: The Pittsburgh Pirates offense has been decent, good, and bad in their first three series.  What do their numbers look like three series into the season?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have dropped two of their first three series.  Heading into the season many questioned how the starting rotation would hold up.  Meanwhile, many felt that the Pittsburgh Pirates offense had a lot of upside in it.  Their worst hitter in the lineup was projected to be Jordy Mercer, and he had a nice 2016 season. Top prospect Josh Bell was taking over the first base and even though being a rookie, many felt he would be a big upgrade over the first baseman in recent history.  Also, there was the expectation that Andrew McCutchen would bounce back to some degree.

Add those three expectations in with a steady core of Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Jung Ho Kang and the offense seemed set.  Of course, this took a hit when Jung Ho Kang was denied his VISA to re-enter the country.  On top of that, Josh Bell underwent late offseason knee surgery and was not a full participant in Spring Training until week three.

So far the starting pitcher has been adequate.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have gotten a few really good starts, and the rest have been decent.  However, the offense has not been productive.  The team has struggled to score runners and rank 27th in runners left in scoring position per game. Here is a look at some of the offensive stats from the beginning of the year thus far.

Team Stats

Runs per Game

As of this morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates rank 27th in the league in runs scored.  The Pittsburgh Pirates currently are scoring an average of 3.12 runs per game. The next closest team, Atlanta, is scoring 3.38 runs per game, while the number one team, Texas, has an average of 5.75 runs.  At this time last year, the Pirates were scoring an average of 4.00 runs per game which ranked them at 16th.

Runners Left on Base

The Pittsburgh Pirates rank 29th in number of runners left on base per game.  They are leaving an average of 8 runners stranded per contest. This has been a common theme for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as of this date last season they ranked 30th in the majors and ended the season at 27th.  Having high on-base percentage players is great, but they obviously are having trouble scoring them.

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Runners Left in Scoring Position

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently rank 27th in number of runners left in scoring position.  So far they have averaged four runners left on base per game.  The only teams worse than them are Seattle, San Francisco, and the Yankees.

Run Differential

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently rank last in run differential being outscored in games by 18 runs.  The next closest team is Kansas City at -16.  For comparison, the top team in run differential is the Cincinnati Reds, who just swept the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds are +25 on the year.

Hits per Run Scored

The Pittsburgh Pirates rank 29th in hits per run.  This is a stat that looks at how many hits they have to get before scoring a run. The Pittsburgh Pirates take 2.48 hits for every run they score.  The only team that is below them is the Atlanta Braves, who the Pirates just swept.  Once again for comparison, the Texas Rangers are first in the league at 1.37 hits per run scored.

Some Optimism

One piece of optimism is that they are ranked 19th in hits per game, 21st in OBP, and 11th in at-bats per game.  Although two of the three categories are in the bottom half of the league, this still shows that their numbers could get better.  If they can increase their run production closer to where their hits and OBP are currently ranked, and add it in with the solid pitching so far, things should turn around.

Next: Pirates Need to Survive April

Plus key players like Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen have gotten off to slow starts.  They are supposed to be two key run producers and have not been thus far.  However, both have always been slow starters in their careers.  It seems like the Pittsburgh Pirates are just having some bad luck.  This is something that needs to turn around now if they want to stay in the race as the season continues on.

*Stats are courtesy of Team Rankings