Are the young hitters of the Pittsburgh Pirates progressing or regressing under the watchful eye of hitting coach Andy Haines?
The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon 2-0. In doing so, they lost the series two games to one.
That fact should not surprise or upset people. What could and should upset people is the fact that they went into the seventh inning without a baserunner after having gone one out into the sixth inning the night before without a baserunner, pulling a victory despite that fact.
On Sunday, they couldn't get a baserunner against Dallas Keuchel in their first 19 plate appearances. Keuchel was a waiver wire scrap head addition for the Twins who went 1 2/3 innings and gave up six earned runs to the Philadelphia Phillies.
This article is not about wins and losses. That ship sailed long ago and it isn't, nor should be, the primary focus of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After all, as mentioned in the previous article, this is a team that has had a ton of players with less than two years of major league experience. What should be in question is whether or not this coaching staff and front office have this group of talented players improving or declining.
Following Sunday's performance, it makes you wonder, at least from a hitting perspective. The pitching hasn't been worth writing home about for quite a while, but the pitching this weekend against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins deserves a thumbs up at a minimum.
Watching Pirates' batters flail at balls and stare at strikes becomes an exercise in frustration. Even when contact is made, it has been weak more often than not.
The Pirates had just two hits on Sunday, both by Bryan Reynolds. Only one of those hits came from solid contact and the 27 outs the hitters graciously flopped through had very little threat of becoming hits.
Last night was much of the same for the first 16 batters with the biggest difference coming from more strikeouts.
With youth comes inconsistency. Patience needs to be shown from coaches to fans alike.
If we're all being honest with ourselves, the vast majority of the youth on this roster should be playing at Triple-A Indianapolis or even Double-A Altoona to fine-tune their craft instead of being rushed to Pittsburgh. Any inconsistencies should not be blamed on these "kids".
The fact that so many inexperienced players are on the major league roster stems from the failure
of the front office to fill a roster with competitive veterans that can keep the Pirates at least mildly competitive while the young Bucs learn the game at the lower levels without the burdensome expectations of Pittsburgh fans. It may not be a failure, per se, but an unwillingness of owner Bob Nutting to properly invest in his franchise.
Nothing can be done about the front office decisions now. What's done is done! The youth is here and is staying here.
But, what can be done is to spend the last 37 games trying to get the "Young Bucs" to improve and get ready for a run in 2024.
Is it happening? Let's just judge hitting from the All-Star break and leave the pitching for another article. Also, this article will study only the "Young Bucs" since they are the backbone of our future.
It should be noted that the stats ahead are from prior to Monday night's victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jack Suwinski: ASB = .231 AVG., 19 HRs, 49 RBI...Currently = .205/21/54 for a loss of 26 points off the batting average, 2 HR, 6 RBI since the All-Star Break.
Henry Davis: ASB = .257/1/7...Currently = .213/5/18 for a loss of 44 points off the batting average, 4 HR, 11 RBI since the All-Star Break.
Jared Triolo: ASB = .302/0/5...Stats before demotion to AAA = .273/1/16 for a loss of 29 points off the batting average, 1 HR, 11 RBI since the All-Star Break.
Nick Gonzales: ASB = .278/1/11...Stats before demotion to AAA = .216/1/13 for a loss of 62 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 2 RBI since the All-Star Break.
Josh Palacios: ASB = .235/2/13...Currently = .212/4/18 for a loss of 23 points off the batting average, 2 HR, 5 RBI since the All-Star Break.
The stats of the next three hitters will be judged from June 2. The reasons why will be in parentheses.
Jason Delay: From June 2(was briefly demoted): .319/1/9...Currently: .278/1/15 for a loss of 41 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 6 RBI since June 2.
Ji-Hwan Bae: From June 2(injured from 7/1 - 8/18): .275/2/12...Currently: .240/2/20 for a loss of 35 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 8 RBI since June 2.
Tucapita Marcano: From June 2(injured and lost for the season 7/24): .269/3/10...Final Stats: .233/3/18 for a loss of 36 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 8 RBI from 6/2 to 7/24.
The last three hitters will start at August 1 since they were called up in July and hadn't had much of a data set built from the All-Star Break:
Endy Rodriguez: From August 1: .231/1/5...Currently: .244/2/7 for a gain of 13 points on the batting average, 1 HR, 2 RBI from August 1.
Alika Williams: From August 1: .250/0/1...Currently: .212/0/4 for a loss of 38 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 3 RBI from August 1.
Liover Peguero: From August 1: .269/3/10...Currently: .233/3/18 for a loss of 36 points off the batting average, 0 HR, 8 RBI.
From specific points in the season, only ONE of the "Young Bucs" has improved their batting average and that's Rodriguez. The rest of them have lost anywhere from 23 to 62 points off their batting averages.
In addition, this group has contributed 10 HRs and 70 RBIs from the varying data points. Davis has added four of the ten HRs and he and Triolo added the most RBIs in those time frames with 11. Of course, Triolo is in Indianapolis, so that's not much help currently.
That appears to be a very staggering statistic that points to the fact that the "Young Bucs" are regressing instead of progressing.
There are two theories upon which one can attribute this obvious regression.
One, the blame can be placed on the front office for rushing these kids to the big leagues when they may not be ready. The statistics can back that up.
The other could be that the hiring of Andy Haines was a major blunder and his teachings have contributed to the decline of the offense. Those same statistics can support that claim, as well as the fact that Haines was fired from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2021.
Haines failed once before and either Derek Shelton or Ben Cherington wasted little time in snapping him up to fail the Pirates, as well. Since Nutting won't fire Cherington and Cherington won't fire himself, the logical scapegoat, deserved or not, should and probably will be Haines.
Haines has 37 games to right the ship or, more specifically, The Jolly Roger. Otherwise, he'll be fired for the second time in three years.
If these horrific numbers listed above don't change soon, that's exactly what will happen. Sorry, Andy. CLEAR THE DECK! CANNONBALL COMIN'!!!