May 18, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ike Davis (15) fields a ball during the third inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates: Do Bucs Have The Right Formula At First Base?


It’s been no secret coming into this season that the Pittsburgh Pirates badly needed an upgrade at first base and even after acquiring Ike Davis from the New York Mets in April, you can make the case that the Bucs were still below par in terms of production at the position.

Feb 26, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez (17) works out prior to the game at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I for one was not a fan of the move, but I must say Davis has been growing on me more by the week.

However it’s not necessarily Davis in a Pirates uniform that is doing the trick, but the Davis-Gaby Sanchez platoon could be the perfect mix for the Pirates right now.

Since joining the Pirates, Davis boasts a solid .294/.390/.412 line through 102 at bats. That line includes a very slow start, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of power as Davis has hit just two homers in a Pirates uniform and driven in 11 runs.

But Davis has been pretty good as of late, putting up a .333/.425/.440 line in the month of May. All he has been missing is a few balls to clear the right field wall in PNC Park.

However, look more closely at Davis’ splits and he has a .315/.424/.459 line against right-handed pitching on the season. That is something to get very excited about, especially the lofty .424 OBP.

I’m confident the power will pick up, so having Davis in the lineup to mash against right-handed pitching the rest of the season could turn out to be big for the Pirates.

But consider the fact that Sanchez boasts an impressive .344/.382/.688 line against left-handed pitching and Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington may have figured out the team’s first base problem with the acquisition of Davis.

Judging by the past, you knew Sanchez would mash against southpaws coming in and while he hasn’t had many opportunities on the season, the seventh-year pro is carrying a 1.070 OPS against lefties, so that is more than getting the job done. He’s actually hit three of his five homers against right-handed pitching, but the more lefties the Pirates see, his power numbers should increase as well.

By putting the two together and looking at Davis’ numbers only against right-handed pitching and Sanchez’s numbers against left-handed pitching, you get a combined .321/.415/.510 line.

That’s a platoon that is getting the job done. Together their .925 OPS is better than almost every regular first baseman in the National League.

The down side is that they have combined for only five homers and 21 RBI as if you look at their numbers against the respective pitching, but if they keep getting on base at the clip they are, I would expect that to rise.

Would it be nice for the Pirates to have an everyday slugger at first base? Of course, but those guys aren’t made available at the drop of a hat.

Instead it looks like Huntington has done the next best thing as the Davis-Sanchez combo has become quietly productive.

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