Pittsburgh Pirates: First Half Individual Grades for Bucs Hitters

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We are a little past the halfway point of the season and the Pittsburgh Pirates have more than exceeded expectations in terms of wins and losses.

But how have the Pirates hitters performed individually?

After a very slow start too the season with the bats, as predicted, most of the Pirates hitters have picked things up.

Jun 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) returns the ball to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (not pictured) during the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As a team they still rank in the bottom third of each major statistical category though: runs (22nd, 327), average (24th, .227), on base percentage  (22nd, .309) and slugging percentage (17th, .393).

However despite that, we have seen some solid individual efforts to date.

Let’s take a look how each Pirates hitter grades out.

Note: All stats are following July 3 game vs. Phillies

Russell Martin (.251 AVG, .350 OBP, .420 SLG, 8 HR, 32 RBI)

You can’t say enough about the impact Martin has brought to this team both offensively and defensively. He has been masterful with the pitching staff and his bat has been pretty good.

He has hit for a decent average after only hitting .211 a season ago and while he won’t hit as many homers in PNC Park as he did in Yankee Stadium, Martin has still shown the ability to hit for some power.  He has an OPS over .770 and a WAR over 2 meaning that the veteran catcher has had a positive all around impact. His grade may reflect a little higher than his actual numbers reflect, but that just illustrates how poor the Pirates catchers have been in the past. Grade: B+

Michael McKenry (.200/.258/.344/3/10)

The Fort was a nice story while it lasted. Here’s a case of a guy who was overexposed a bit last season by getting too many at bats..

He has become a below average defensive catcher and the entire league can run on him. It was nice when he could contribute offensively, but lately McKenry has done little of that as well. Sure he has had only 90 at bats but a .258 OBP and a .344 SLG shouldn’t warrant any more than that. It’s time the Pirates address the backup catcher position. Grade: D-

Garrett Jones (.257/.306/.430/8/33)

Remember when there was talk that the Pirates could have dealt Jones during the offseason? I bet you they secretly wish they would have pulled the trigger on some deal.

Truthfully there may not be a more disappointing player on the roster. The guy is paid to hit the ball out of the ball park and drive in runs and that’s something Jones has failed to do in 2013 after having a career season in 2012. You had to think a drop in production was coming for Jones, who just turned 32. But even with a decline, you would hope for more than a .257 average, eight homers, a .737 OPS and a 0.7 WAR.

The good news is that Jones typically catches fire in July and August and we have already seen a couple homers lately. Hopefully he heats up or he should be playing his way out of the door. Grade: D+

Gaby Sanchez (.238/.350/.427/7/24)

I like what I have seen from Sanchez, both with the glove and with the bat. In 73 less at bats than Jones, Sanchez is hitting for a bit lower average, but has a better OBP (.350) and OPS (.777). He is also nearly the equal of Jones in terms of run production.

However while Jones has disappointed so far, if you combine the numbers of Sanchez and Jones at first base, you getting a pretty decent season. I still believe that Sanchez should start getting more of the playing time if Jones doesn’t start heating up soon. Grade: C

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