Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who are the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates?

Who are the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates?

After last night’s debacle in Philadelphia, one glaring statistic was exacerbated:

The Pirates, in their 38 games, have given up 103 more runs than they scored. That means the opposition is scoring almost 3 more runs per game than the Pirates. To put that in perspective, the team with the worst record in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, have a run differential of 56.

And yet the Pirates are in fourth place in the division, six games back of the Reds. It’s nearly implausible, but it’s true. History and reason should prove this to be unsustainable. You can’t give up that many more runs than you score and continue to win games. But exactly what part of the equation is unsustainable? Is it the Pirates continuing to win games, or the Pirates giving up almost twice as many runs as they score?

I’m a guy who thinks the answer is the latter part of that question.

Call me an optimist, a hopeless Pirate romantic, what have you. But there may be some truth to why I feel the way I do, and here’s why.

1. The pitching cannot get much worse. The Pirates have statistically the worst starting pitcher in the league, Charlie Morton, who’s ERA is only slightly under 10. The team ERA is barely 6.00, making it one of the worst in baseball. No starter has shown much consistency, and the bullpen, while it’s held the Pirates in a few games, still has 6 pitchers with ERA’s over 5.00.

2. The Pirates haven’t started to hit yet either, with the sole exception being Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen is the only Pirate with a batting average over .274. Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit have not even begun hitting for power yet. Lastings Milledge hasn’t been swinging the bat well. The Buccos have also been dealing with the awful slumps of Jeff Clement and Aki Iwamura (who I think is like 3 for his last 23432 at-bats). The team batting average is a paltry .233.

3. They can’t field. The Pirates have the 5th worst fielding percentage in the league. I don’t even need to say anything more about this.

If an unbiased observer looked at these statistics, they would unequivocally say the Pirates were the worst team in baseball. No doubt.

But here’s the catch: they’re not. And that’s a reason to be hopeful. Like I mentioned, the Pirates are six games back, in fourth place. After all of this, all the awful statistics and lopsided games, we sit six games out of the division lead. I don’t honestly think the Pirates can win the division, but it just can’t get worse than it is right now. Most of the young hitters aren’t hitting and none of the young pitchers are doing well. Which means it could turn around. If one thing here and there starts to go differently, this is a team that could rattle off some wins. Not to mention what the team could be like if guys like Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata come up late in the year.

I know it’s a longshot, but if the Pirates can develop a couple of pitchers and keep this core together, we may see an end to the losing streak in the next couple of years.

All we can do is hope.

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