The first thing we are going to do here at battling bucs is take a look at just how bad the Pirates offense has been this season. To determine this I am going to compare the Pirates to the National League average. In earlier studies I have determined that OPS is the easiest and most accurate stat to use when comparing player. I have also found that when breaking down the league the top 5 players tend to be about 50 OPS points better than the average and the bottom 5 tend to be about 50 OPS points worse than the average.
NL Average C: .708 (range of .658-.758)
Pirates C: .649
When Snyder and Doumit were catching the Pirates were above average. With them out of the lineup the catching position has been down right dreadful. Combine the two together and what you have is a slightly below average position that is trending downwards.
NL Average 1B: .788 (range of .738-.838)
Pirates 1B: .674
The Overbay signing all but insured the Pirates would get below average offensive production from 1B however Overbay’s performance so far this year has been below what anyone could have reasonably expected. Moving forward it is essential that the Pirates receive better play from this position. The Pirates have to find a better solution wether it is Overbay playing better or Jones or Hague taking over. It has to get better so this position is trending upwards.
NL Average 2B: .682 (range of .632-.732)
Pirates 2B: .698
Early on the Pirates were receiving well above average play from 2B but Walker has cooled off recently and the position has becoming merely average for the Pirates. Chances are that Walker will improve and bring this position to above average. Not much needs to be changed here, the position is trending upwards.
NL Average 3B: .684 (range of .634-.734)
Pirates 3B: .613
Third base play across the National League this season has been poor. Normally known for its offensive production the position has been battling 2B and SS for the worst non-pitcher position in the league. Even with the poor play from the rest of the league the Pirates have been below average, however with the impending return of Alvarez nothing else needs to be done to address this position. This one is easy to call, trending upwards.
NL Average SS: .677 (range of .627-.727)
Pirates SS: .642
Shortstop is an often criticized position but in reality it is actually performing just a touch below league average. When you add in the defensive play of Cedeno the position has actually been basically right about average for the NL. The combination of Cedeno and d’Arnaud should be able to keep the position holding steady. So the position isn’t trending, it is holding.
NL Average LF: .759 (range of .709-.809)
Pirates LF: .707
The Pirates do not expect big offense out of LF. Thier expectations are for the player to be able to get on base and play good defense. With all that being said slightly below league average is perfectly acceptable but the current level is not. With Tabata out the expectation is that the numbers should see a dip at least while Presley adjusts. Trending downward.
NL Average CF: .752 (range of .702-.802)
Pirates CF: .850
This is McCutchen, enough said. Definately trending upwards.
NL Average RF: .781 (range of .731-.831)
Pirates RF: .703
Everyone knows right field has been a problem area. The combination of Jones, Diaz and Paul has just not been working out. It goes without saying that something needs to be done, maybe Presley can slide over when Tabata returns but the Pirates need to find some way to fix this. As for right now though not much help is on the horizon so this position is holding.
C: 59 points below average
1B: 114 below average
2B: 16 above average
3B: 71 below average
SS: 35 below average
LF: 52 below average
CF: 98 above average
RF: 78 below average
So where does all of this leave the Pirates. CF is producing well above average and is set. The 4 positions of 2B, 3B, SS and LF are either producing around league average or it can be reasonably expected that the production of these positions will increase in the short term future. The other 3 positions of C, 1B and RF are in desperate need of improvement. Not much can be reasonable done about catcher as those are simply not available, so the best course of action is likely waiting for Doumit to return. As for 1B it is reasonable to either expect Overbay to improve or for some combination of Jones, Pearce and Hague to take over and produce better. Even with that though production still will probably be below average. For RF to improve somebody is going have to emerge and run with the job. Things may look bleak now but with the returns of Alvarez and Doumit on the way the Pirates could get thier offense near league average by adding 1 or 2 bats, preferably at 1B or RF.