For most of the 2012 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won with two things- pitching and defense.
While the pitching has received its fair share of acclaim for the job they’ve done throughout the course of the season, the guys behind them seem to get over looked. Part of playing winning baseball is making the plays in the field on a consistent basis and the Bucs do it among the best in baseball.
Position-by-position they are very good defensively. The only hole is in right field, where neither Garrett Jones, Josh Harrison or Drew Sutton can be considered a capable defender, but every other position on the diamond, the Bucs stack up nicely against the rest of the league.
Right now the Bucs .984 fielding percentage ranks them fifth in the National League, only .003 away from the Cincinnati Reds, who lead the league.
The Pirates have made only 56 errors on the season in 3,487 total chances. More impressive is the Bucs Defensive Efficiency Rating of .705, which ties them for second in the league, only .003 behind the Washington Nationals.
This Pirates team has continued to bail their pitchers out all season long by making big plays in the field when they need to do so.
Individually, Casey McGehee has made a world of difference at first base. His .996 fielding percentage ties him for the best mark in the N.L. The always steady Neil Walker has made only two errors all season at second base and has the third best fielding percentage at his position at .991 and the second best range factor-4.88.
Pedro Alvarez has made 14 errors on the season and his fielding percentage is only .937, but he’s second among all NL third basemen in RF at 2.57. Clint Barmes also ranks among the top five shortstops in the leage with a .971 fielding percentage. Overall, Alvarez and Barmes have been very good with the glove all season long.
In the outfield, Andrew McCutchen has made one error all season and has an outstanding .995 fielding percentage, second only to Shane Victorino.
Behind the dish, veteran Rod Barajas has made a world of difference, not only handling the pitching staff with success, but also posting the leagues second best fielding percentage of .996.
It all comes down to fundamentals and the Bucs are a much better fundamental team defensively than they were even a season ago.
While the offense has been very nice to watch as of late and the pitching staff has been getting the job done pretty much all season, don’t underestimate the role that the Pirates defense has played in their success.
With pitching and defense, you will be in pretty much every ballgame you play and the Pirates have shown that throughout the course of the 2012 season.