Apr 10, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning of their game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Must Focus On Getting On Base To Boost Inconsistent Offense


One thing that Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle needs to do is to sit his team down and watch the movie “Moneyball.”

Brad Pitt, playing the role of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, breaks things down quite simply when he routinely states that he wants players such as Scott Hatteberg, David Justice and Jeremy Giambi because they get on base.

Apr 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) in the on deck circle during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

While it is early in the 2014 season, getting on base has been a problem for the Pirates team, like it seems to always be for the months of April and May.

Whether it is early or not, that is something that has to change in a hurry.

Currently this Pirates team boasts an OBP of just .294. Only four teams in the majors have a worse mark. It’s only 15 games into the season, so it is no time to panic, but a major problem is that the Pirates are hitting a mere .223 as a team. Only two other teams in baseball can claim to be worse.

It’s simply a matter of having a better approach at the plate.

Only Andrew McCutchen (.391) boasts a solid OBP number at this point. Other Pirates hitters, including: Starling Marte (.338), Tony Sanchez (.333), Gaby Sanchez (.320), Russell Martin (.304), Clint Barmes (.300) and Jose Tabata (.300) all have decent OBP numbers, but for the most part the team is struggling in the department.

Neil Walker (.295), Travis Snider (.283), Pedro Alvarez (.277) Travis Ishikawa (.270) and Jordy Mercer (.258) are simply failing in terms of getting on base enough.

It’s not like this Pirates offense can’t perform with the bats.

They are middle of the pack in baseball with 57 runs scored and are fourth with 19 homers so far. They also hit fairly well with runners in scoring position, batting .261 as a team, the ninth best mark in the majors.

The problem is they aren’t getting enough guys on base to have enough opportunities to come through.

While I looked at the batting average already, another problem is drawing more walks.

The walk numbers are actually up from this point a season ago as the Bucs have drawn 46 free passes already (17th), but the strikeouts continue to drag this team down, fanning 135 times already through 15 games, the seven highest total in baseball.

The approach at the plate has to improve team-wide. While the Pirates are hitting the ball out to the park at a very high rate, they also have been almost too dependent on the long ball, something we see often from this team.

In the last seven games, in which the Pirates have gone only 2-5, the Bucs have scored 23 runs. Only eight of those runs have come without the services of the long ball.

At the end of the day, it’s early and things will certainly turn around for this Pirates offense. But the lack of getting on base is a disturbing trend at the moment.

Once they start turning out better at bats regularly and getting on base more often, things will pick up. If it doesn’t happen soon though, this team could dig themselves a big hole that is going to tough to climb out of.

 

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