Here are the Pirates OPS by batting position compared to the NL OPS by batting position. See if you can spot a problem.
1st: .494 (.640)
2nd: .420 (.753)
3rd: .904 (.848)
4th: .617 (.723)
5th: .592 (.767)
6th: .261 (.709)
7th: .570 (.707)
8th: .472 (.641)
9th: .495 (.426)
With the exception of Andrew McCutchen and amazingly the pitcher’s spot the Pirates are well below league average at every single spot. The most depressing is of course the 6th spot in the order a .261 OPS is obviously unacceptable, heck outside of the two above league average they all are unacceptable. Overall though the middle of the lineup (3-4-5) has not been quite as bad as the rest of the lineup. The obvious answer here is that the top of the order and the bottom needs to start hitting, heck even above a 600 OPS rate at this point would be great.
I’ll be the first to admit that batting average is not the greatest indicator of success or lack there of but I think its good enough in this case. The Pirates normal 6-7-8 hitters (Barajas, Alvarez and Barmes) are 8 for 90 for a batting average of .089. That is just plain terrible. Some body has to start hitting and they have to start hitting now. Tabata was recently benched for two games and I think the same needs to be done to try and help Barajas and Barmes. McKenry is hitting well thus far this season and Navarro hasn’t really gotten a chance. Play them for 2-3 days to just try and reset Barajas and Barmes. Also with Jones and Alvarez hitting fairly well it may not be a bad idea to sit Alvarez for a game even against a right hander. Honestly right now our best lineup would probably be:
I say roll with that for a few days and see if we can’t jump start the offense. The pitching has been tremendous and needs to get help and why this may not do it I think it gives the Pirates the best chance possible. The ideal situation is that by the end of the season Alvarez starts hitting, Mercer or d’Arnaud emerges as the future SS, Fryer proves to be a serviceable catcher and Sanchez looks like the catcher of the future.
Things may not be going well now but frankly its impossible for the hitting to stay this bad. Tabata and Presley are bound to come around and start getting on base and with the middle of the lineup hitting at least somewhat respectably more runs should follow. The biggest question mark is the bottom of the order and I think that can at least be productive enough to not be awful. Brighter days have to be ahead, let’s all hope so anyway.