This has been getting a lot of views so I thought I’d repost it. Remember these numbers are a little dated but should still tell most of the story.
For those of us not to0 sold on the Pirates catching options for next season here is an early look at the free agent catchers this offseason. I’ve excluded McCann and Ruiz (options that will be picked up) and Napoli (not a full time catcher and very unlikely Pirates acquisition). The players marked with an * have options for next season and thus may not reach the free agent market. Stats are covering the last three seasons: 2010-now(9/2/2012).
Russell Martin: 30.7% CS, 91 wRC+, 6.3 WAR (2678.1 Inn, 1250 PA)
AJ Pierzynski: 23.3% CS, 97 wRC+, 6.0 WAR (2978.1 Inn, 1427 PA)
David Ross: 33.7% CS, 123 wRC+, 4.5 WAR (1015.1 Inn, 463 PA)
Yorvit Torrealba: 31.7% CS, 90 wRC+, 4.2 WAR (2055.2 Inn, 981 PA)
*Chris Iannetta: 27.4% CS, 102 wRC+, 4.2 WAR (1794.1 Inn, 819 PA)
Kelly Shoppach: 31.3% CS, 91 wRC+, 3.2 WAR (1465.1 Inn, 628 PA)
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For two consecutive seasons the Pirates have collapsed late in the year and in most instances this would usually be cause for some changes to the coaching staff and front office but the Pirate’s situation is a little different. Two consecutive collapses don’t happen to often without some change at the top but how often does change at the top happen when the group has exceeded expectations their first two seasons together? I’m going to guess that is also a low number. People tend for good reason to focus solely on the Pirates collapses these past two seasons but when you step back and look 72 wins and contention into August was much more than was expected in 2011 and 77+ wins and contention deep into September was much more than was expected in 2012.
Just as there is little doubt the Pirates have collapsed for two seasons there is also little doubt that the Pirates have also outperformed what they were expected to do. These two conflicting forces create a problem with trying to evaluate this group’s performance. There is definitely valid reasons to focus only on the late part of the season but really is it fair to evaluate a group that had 324 games on only 120 or so of those games? I really don’t think so. This is just a very odd situation. I’m trying to think of another team that can be described as having collapsed and exceeded expectations and I’m struggling to do that.
So the main point of this exercise is to determine if I am actually ok with the apparent retainment of the front office and coaching staff and even after thinking through it rationally I am not sure. I mean the collapses have been bad and someone should be fired for them but yet this group has done more than was expected of them for two straight seasons and is that something that any other organization would punish? I don’t think so.
I find myself in an odd state here. I promised myself that no matter what I would not start into my offseason posts until the season ends but the way this season has ended only makes me want to think about the offseason more and more. I’ve written everything I care to write about the Pirates current play and with no minor league action going on topics right now are in short supply. So I guess what I’m saying is that for the next week or so you are likely to see a very quite Battling Bucs. I’ll still be around but posts will not becoming out too frequently.
No surprise here another humiliating loss to one of the worse teams in baseball. I can’t stand it anymore but I also just can’t stop watching. I’m not numb to all this either every loss still stings and n the long run I know that is a good thing but right now it doesn’t feel like it. This past month and half has drained me and I really don’t know or why I continue to subject myself to this but its in my nature. Something needs to be changed this offseason and in time I’ll expand my thoughts on that exact subject but until then I’m just going to go sit in the corner, lick my wounds and continue to watch even though I know all it will bring me is more pain. October 3rd can’t get here soon enough.
I really have no clue what to say right now. This team hasn’t fallen apart or collapsed it has simply disappeared. At this point I think I’m just going to stop trying to rationalize through this and work on some offseason posts. Really what else can be said here?
I’m trying to stay optimistic here but it is getting more and more difficult with each passing day. There isn’t much left to root for, I mean .500 is still a possibility but the team would have to finish 8-5 to get to 82 wins and even with the Astros, Mets and then 6 games against two teams with likely nothing to play for that still seems like a tall task. There isn’t much to be positive about but I want to be and for that I will give it my best try.
The Pirates are currently 74-75, at the beginning of the season I was with the fairly optimistic crowd predicting 77 wins and it looks like they will probably at least come fairly close to that number if not pass it. No matter how you slice it that is a good thing. It is late into September and up until a week ago this team had a real tangible non-zero chance of making the playoffs. again this is a positive sign. Despite everything the Pirates still have a chance to end the 19 years of losing seasons and with the remaining schedule it isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario in which that will happen, once again another positive sign. This season also brought us the most meaningful baseball we have seen since 1997. Players such as Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, Predo Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen all have taken a step forward and have the makings of a very solid 2-5 or 3-6 for the Pirates order. James McDonald showed some positive signs early on before crashing down and veterans Burnett and Rodriguez still appear to have some left in the tank. This is all positive things that should keep us Pirates fan optimist about next season. Not to mention the Pirates have a fairly nice looking rookie class ready to help out next season in Cole, Locke, Wilson, McPherson, Irwin, Morris, Welker, Black, Curry, Sanchez, Holt, and Santos.
So things look bleak now but I’m going to do everything I can to find positives and stay optimistic because despite these last six weeks or so this has been a great season and you know what I’m still proud to be a Pirate Fan.
Today I want to take a look at how each individual Pirates hitter has done in low, medium and high leverage situations. I’m not going to cover too much of what leverage is but essentially it is an attempt to measure how important a particular PA is to the outcome of a game. So the rest should be self explanatory. There are 14 Pirates hitters who have accumulated at least 100 PA. In order to show how each has performed overall and in low, medium and high leverage situations I have chosen wRC+ as my stat. To give a rough idea of what this is, 100 is considered league average and each point below or above is a percent away from league average (ie 80 is 20% below and 120 is 20% above). Now that is all I’m going to say about this so let’s move on to the results.
One thing we can’t take from these stats is how “clutch” a player is. We are talking above a very small sample size of high leverage at bats here. For instance McCutchen has the most high leverage PA with 57 PA and Marte the least with 12 PA. However the impression of how a player is performing can be greatly affected by these few plate appearances. The perfect example is McGehee and Sanchez. Sanchez has performed well but struggled in high leverage situations. Meanwhile the man he replaced McGehee hit decently in medium and high leverage situations but was very poor in low leverage situations. Snider is another example like Sanchez he has been good in low and medium leverage situations but struggled in high leverage situations. Tabata is yet another example, he is performed nearly league average most of the time but due largely to 47 high leverage plate appearances his season is looked upon negatively.
Interestingly enough though Barmes great performance in his 43 high leverage plate appearance isn’t enough to make his season feel positive. The same essentially goes for Barajas who has just been a touch below league average in high situations but has struggled in all others.
Basically this tells us nothing important but it is still kind of interesting to look at. I’m not going to make any more assumptions with this data but feel free to enjoy it.
Its been a long season, one filled early on with doubt which was later replaced with excitement which has now been replaced with agony. After today roughly 90% of the season will have been played and the Pirates will be in a much better position than any of us would have realistically imagined in March but in a far worse position that we would have thought in July. A baseball season is full of ups and downs and the Pirates are currently deep down in one of those downs. Nothing seems to be going right. When the pitching shows up the hitters don’t and when the hitters show the pitching is awful. Right now the season feels like a catastrophe.
But you know what the season isn’t a catastrophe and the Pirates haven’t collapsed at least not yet. There are still 17 games to go and while we all feel like we know how this is going to end we can’t be sure. The possibility exists that this team will some how some way put together a magical 17 game run and maybe go 15-2 and make the playoffs or at least 11-6 and make us all feel a little better about this season. Do I expect either to happen? No. But I can I guarantee neither will not happen? Once again, no. Look I’m a calm rational Pirate fan who loves this team. I mean it honestly when I say that every one of the 105 losses in 2010 hurt. I didn’t become numb or indifferent they all stung just like all 72 losses to date have stung. I know I am setting myself up for my pain by continuing to watch these games but this 2012 season, with the possible exception of 1997, is the best Pirates season I can recall and I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy these finals 17 games should we finish 17-0, 0-17 or somewhere in between.
For everything I am, an optimist I am not so don’t take this as me saying things are going to improve because honestly I don’t think they will. I fully expect this slide to continue and for the Pirates to play these final 17 games at 6-11 or so but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope. I have never bought into this team as a playoff team or a true contender not even when they were 16 games above 500 but that doesn’t mean I didn’t root for them to be one. This is my Pirates team and even though I have no confidence in them to turn this around and have never really believed in them in the first place I am still going to go down with this ship because you know why these are my Pirates and I’d rather go down with them than bail even if logically its the right thing to do. So for 17 more times this season, regardless of the record, the standings or my feelings about how this team is constructed and managed I am going to proudly display my devotion to the Pirates and cheer for them despite all the odds. In that regard tonight will be no different from any night over the 15 year life of my Pirates fandom. Let’s Go Bucs!
Overcome with frustration I head out to make the trip to the top of Mount Doubleday and plead with the baseball gods. I search for an answer to as why us Pirates fans are tortured so much. Its a long difficult journey that takes me through the Fehr desert and through the always dangerous Selig pass; many have attempted the journey and all but a few have failed. On several occasions I too nearly end up as just another victim but the tales of what I seen and my near death experiences are for another day. For the story I want to tell here is what happened when I finally reached the summit of Mount Doubleday.
As I reached the top of the mountain I see nothing so I cry out pleading with the baseball gods to show themselves. I yell I out that I wish to speak to them and talk about the plight of the Pirates fans. I stop to listen and silence, I get no response. My pleadin continues and still silence so eventually I decide to just say my piece anyway. My emotions were running high so I’m not sure exactly what I said but I’ll do my best to summarize.
Look, If you aren’t going to respond that is fine but I’m going to say my piece anyway. I am a member of the most downtrodded fan base you oversee and I’m not speaking about the Cubs. I am a Pirates fan and for two decades you have beaten us down repetitively, punished us for some misdeed and I just can’t take it anymore. This season you allowed us to have some real hope only to beat us down once more. We had become numb to emotions such as anger and frustration but you allowed them to creep back in and now that is all we feel. You have given us nothing, not even a clue as to what we have done to anger you. At least Cubs fans know why they are being punished. I mean what could we have done to not only deserve this collapse but to see our castoffs like Jose Bautista, Nate McLouth, Paul Maholm, Brandon Moss, Jeff Keppinger and even Lyle Overbay contributing with other clubs? Meanwhile you give us Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas three very capable vetran free agents and yet none of them play anywhere near their career norms. The punishment you have handed out has been enough to make most of us give up. Surely you can not want that we are one group of your dedicated followers; we do what we can to appease you as does our team. It is true you have given us moments to be proud of but that was a generation ago the current group carrying the torch has no or little memory of that time. The few of us left solider on but its getting harder and harder to do so. I mean we thought that maybe our time in baseball hell on Earth aka Littlefield was the last of pur punishment but no it rages on. I mean even when things were looking goo this season you still gave us Burnett bunting a ball into his eye, Pedro Alvarez doing nothing the month of April, no offense to speak of and the terrible performances by the free agent signings and this makes no mention of Josh Bell’s pro debut. We aren’t asking for special treatment just for fair treatment. It has been a long time since we Pirates fans had something to truly get excited about so this season seemed special and magical like anything was possible. This season had brought new life to this fan base it had rejuvinated us and made us proud once more but alas you pulled the rug out from under us and have taken it all way. I’m not here for an apology or to cry to you about how its unfair all I really want is an explanation for the way you have been treating us and maybe some advice on what we as a fan base can do better. Come on oh great baseball gods I know you’re there what should I and people just like me do to appease you and make you treat us fairly that is all I ask.
The above paragragh is the essence of what I said to them and then I waited and waited and silence. The baseball gods still wouldn’t respond. At this point I went into a tirade mentioning many of the ways they have wronged us over the years. Yelling about them and cursing them for treating so poorly and demanding that theyb show themselves to me but once again I was met with silence. So there I was on the top of Mount Doubleday screaming at the baseball gods demanding they answer me and yet nothing. It was a long journey back so to leave empty handed couldn’t be accepted so I waited occasionally yelling off into the distance hoping to hear or see anything but I was met with silence. The baseball gods would have none of my pleading and reasoning. I had come so far but alas I had nothing to show for it. Finally after what seemed like an entirity I decided it was time to had back home. Just then I could have sworn I heard some murmors so I turned around but still there was nothing so I head down the mountain and the whole way down through the whipping wind I could swear I heard the words hope, passion, pride, excitement. The words sounded as if they were coming from some ghostly figure but I could see nothing and to be honest I wasn’t even sure of what I heard.
After descending down the mountain I saw figure in the distance who was just barely visible. Even with my sight impaired I knew it must be one of the baseball gods. I entered a near trance like state and once again were repeated the words hope, passion, pride, exctiement for that is what we gave you. After coming out fo the trance I was shaken but I knew what had happened but the figure was gone, desperately I began racing up the hill looking for him yelling that my question hadn’t be answered that I still had no idea why we had to suffer so but I never saw that ghostly figure again.
It was around this time that something snapped me back into reality and my day dream ended. I asked myself what am I to think after that should I give up this notion of the baseball gods and accept the fact theat the Pirates are just unlucky or simply not talented enough or should I continue trying to reason with them at every turn wondering why they hate us so. My day dream made me realize that while the baseball gods have dished me out a lot of punishment they have also given me some of the best memories of my young life. Not just this season and not just the Pirates but as a whole baseball has been one of the best htings in my life for a long as I can remember. Yes it has been torturous to sit by and watch this team lose so many games over the years and yes in its own way this season has even beem harder. But you know what when I look at the rest of my life which admittedly I am fairly happy with and then look at baseball I find it hard to complain too much about the net of what baseball has given me. Still I am not satidfied with no response. SO what am I to believe. Are the baseball gods punishing us because of some past misdead, are the having us go through these trails because something grand is waiting for us on the other side, have they simply decided they don’t like us or an even worse scenario do they simply not care about us. I honestly am no closer to that answer than when I started out on my journey to Mount Doubleday. However I have found out that demanding things from the baseball gods and even pleading with them to explain their ways won’t work all we can do is take the punishment and rewards they hand out and realize that maybe it isn’t such a bad deal after all. Maybe some day in the future I’ll return to Mount Doubleday (maybe I’ll even ask them to chancge the name since you know Doubleday wasn’t the actual inventor) and actually have a chance to talk with the baseball gods but until then I guess I’ll just have to accept the baseball experience they give me and to be honest that is a pretty good deal.
Sigh … another Pirates loss. There is no need to recap it but suffice to say it was a frustrating 1 run showing which allowed us to be swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
Somehow someway in an amazing, remarkable, crazy and frustrating way the Pirates will be no more than 3 games out when the resume play on Friday. Tomorrow is their last off day of the season and in my mind it is the Pirates last hope to look deep within themselves and find away to pull out of this slump. I am not holding out much hope for it but I have to hope for that is all I have left. One last chance to reevaluate and see if you have anything left. I haven’t seen anything to make me believe it will happen but I beg you Pirates please prove me wrong and come out strong Friday looking rejuvenated. For it is your last hope to make this season special.