Pittsburgh Pirates 2017: First Half Numbers

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 01: Andrew McCutchen
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 01: Andrew McCutchen /

The second half of the season starts today.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had a rough time in the first half, between visa issues for Jung Ho Kang, a performance enhancing drugs suspension for Starling Marte,  and a 42-47 record.  Here’s a look at how the team and players stacked up in the first half of the season.

Position Player

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates have increased their home runs per plate appearance from 2.44 percent in 2016 to 2.54 percent in 2017, which is a 4.04 percent increase.  Which sounds good, until put into the context of the league.  In 2016, the other 29 teams hit a home run in 3.06 percent of their plate appearances, and in 2017 3.33 percent of the time, an 8.74 percent increase.  They’re just not hitting home runs.
  • Andrew McCutchen has a 2.6 fWAR on the season, ranking 23rd in baseball.  This is coming with a 0.2 fWAR in April and a -0.1 fWAR in May.  His 1.8 fWAR ranked second in July, behind only Aaron Judge, and his current 0.7 fWAR in July ranks eighth.
  • Of players with at least 50 at bats and are on the current active roster, Josh Harrison has exceeded his expected wOBA (xwOBA) by 0.026 points.  Chris Stewart has under performed his xwOBA the most by 0.042.
  • Since June 16, approximately the date in which Gregory Polanco made an adjustment with his hands, Polanco has hit .288/.326/.513 in 86 plate appearances. In his first 199 plate appearances before that date, Polanco hit .244/.313/.356.
  • Jordy Mercer is currently having the best season of his career.  He is enjoying a .325 wOBA and a 1.6 fWAR, his career high is 2.0 fWAR.
  • The teams base running is still plaguing them, having -3.8 base running runs according to fangraphs, and they rank 21st.
  • With runners in scoring position, the Pirates rank 21st in average, 10th in on-base percentage, and 22nd in slugging.  Overall they are leaving 14.57 runners on base per game, 11th most in the game.


  • The Pirates pitching has an ERA- of 101, a FIP- of 100, and a DRA- of 101.  Their staff has been average.
  • Ivan Nova currently has a 13.9 percent strikeout rate.  Of pitchers to qualify for the ERA title since 2000 and who have an ERA- under 80 (364 pitchers), Ivan Nova has the 15th lowest strikeout rate.
  • Of pitchers who have thrown 50 or more innings in 2016 and 50 or more innings in 2017, Gerrit Cole has the highest increase in home run percentage (201.19 percent).  Jameson Taillon has the ninth highest decrease in home run percentage (-39.46 percent).
  • Among qualified relievers, Felipe Rivero has an ERA- of 18, which is the best in the league.  Among the 328 pitchers with 30 or more innings, he ranks 13th in DRA-… he was not an All Star.
  • Tony Watson has a 4.91 FIP (11.1 innings) in low leverage situations, 7.95 FIP (10.0 innings) in medium leverage, and a 3.53 FIP (18.1 innings) in high leverage situations.
  • Juan Nicasio has not allowed a home run this season.  He is the only pitcher with 30 or more innings to do so.


  • When presented with the opportunity to turn a double play, the Pittsburgh Pirates rank 10th best in baseball, 13.804 percent of the time.
  • The Pirates defensive efficiency ranks 23rd in baseball, converting balls in play to outs 69.7 percent.  Their infield defense has been sounds, converting 77.1 percent of ground balls into outs, ranking seventh best in baseball.  Their problem comes with fly balls, as they rank dead last in converting those into outs at just 83.7 percent.
  • Andrew McCutchen had -28 defensive runs saved last season in centerfield in 1318 innings (-0.021 per inning).  In 2017, McCutchen has -15 defensive runs saved in 628.1 innings (-0.024 per inning).  He’s getting worse.
  • Before the season the Pirates seemed to have a blocking problem, but they rank second with 2.0 blocking runs.  Their one advantage over the years, pitch framing, has become a negative.  The Pirates rank 20th with -2.5 framing runs.

Next: Trade Block Primer

There is some good things and bad things with the Pirates in 2017.  Probably why they’re 28-28 in their last 56 games.  The team is only seven games out with St. Louis and Milwaukee coming up at PNC, with Starling Marte making a return on July 18th.  The team will likely go into a soft sell mode like last season.