Pittsburgh Pirates Role Players Struggling as Second Month of Season Nears End


Much has been made about the struggles of the Pittsburgh Pirates offense throughout the 2012 season to date.

The Bucs are currently hitting .218 as a team (29th in MLB), have scored only 115 runs (last in MLB), have a .270 on-base percentage (last in MLB) and are slugging only.344 (28th in MLB).

While it’s very easy to point the finger at anyone except Andrew McCutchen, let’s take a look at the season production from the bench guys, as they’ve given manager Clint Hurdle next to nothing.

Let’s look at the likes of Garrett Jones, Josh Harrison, Nate McLouth, Casey McGehee, Michael McKenry and Yamaico Navarro on the season. Hurdle has mixed and matched enough that all six guys have had the opportunity to produce and the results haven’t been good. Combined the six guys are hitting only .201 (73-of-363), have hit only eight homers and driven in only 33 runs, and have combined for only 23 extra base hits in 363 at bats.

Add that to the little consistent production the Bucs are getting from their regulars and the time for changes may be coming sooner rather than later.

Let’s take a look at each guy individually (before Sunday’s action).

Jones: .230 AVG (20-for-87), 4 HR, 12 RBI, 9 extra-base hits.

Entering the season, I thought there was a chance that the Jones-McGehee first base combination could be somewhat productive, but that’s apparently not the case as the position still remains the biggest weakness on the club in terms of production.

With the Bucs struggling for power, Jones has some value coming off the bench, but how much longer can the Pirates stick with him? He’s a guy simply not worthy of regular at bats, but in an offense not producing, what’s Hurdle to do?

McGehee: .198 AVG (18-for-91), 0 HR, 5 RBI, 5 extra-base hits

McGehee has cooled off considerably since a decent start in April. It’s a lot different without Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hitting in front of you, that’s for sure. But through two months the Pirates first base combo is hitting .215 with four homers and 17 RBI’s.  That’s unacceptable from both Jones and McGehee.

McLouth: .154 AVG (8-for-52), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 extra-base hits

Why is McLouth still wearing a big-league uniform. Nice guy but an extremely unproductive player. If he’s getting at bats, he must produce, plain and simple. His best days are way behind him and the Bucs could do better with a backup outfielder from the scrap heap instead of running McLouth out there.

Harrison: .261 AVG (12-for-46), 1 HR, 8 RBI, 4 extra-base hits

I have no problem with the job Harrison has done so far. He’s very undisciplined at the plate, but does have the third most hits on the team with runners in scoring position. When used properly and not over-used, Harrison can be a bit of a spark plug.

McKenry:  .182 AVG (8-for-44), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 extra-base hits

I’m no real fan of “The Fort,” since he really doesn’t do much, but I guess you could do worse as a backup catcher. The Pirates could be the only organization where this guy is even a major league option with their lack of catching depth through the organization, but overall McKenry is the least of their problems.

Navarro: .175 AVG (7-for-40), 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 extra-base hit

I love the versatility of Navarro as he can play multiple positions and play them well, but you would like to see some production at the plate from him as well. What he gives them in terms of versatility though warrants a roster spot.

With all of the lack of production the Pirates are getting as a team, the good news is that the Bucs are 19-22 and only 3.5 games out in the National League Central. if somehow they can get four or five bats going at the same time and it doesn’t matter if they are starters or role players, then we could potentially see this team put together a winning streak in the upcoming weeks.

But to do that, not only the starters have to start hitting consistently, but so do the guys on the bench.

Follow City of Champions Sports on Twitter

Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter and Facebook