Pirates offense underperforming, but should improve

Someone asked me on Twitter today what the overall problem with the Pirates offense has been so far in 2012. The answer is pretty simple. Outside of Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones, just about everyone in the starting lineup has been underperforming. Here is a list of the Pirates’ position players, along with their respective 2012 Weighted On-Base Averages (wOBA) and preseason ZiPS projections.

Name PA 2012 wOBA ZiPS wOBA Difference
Alex Presley 108 .259 .328 -.069
Neil Walker 104 .314 .328 -.014
Andrew McCutchen 104 .330 .359 -.029
Jose Tabata 100 .268 .331 -.063
Clint Barmes 91 .223 .296 -.073
Pedro Alvarez 86 .375 .333 .042
Garrett Jones 69 .344 .325 .019
Casey McGehee 68 .312 .307 .005
Rod Barajas 65 .163 .313 -.150
Nate McLouth 42 .252 .327 -.075
Michael McKenry 36 .287 .285 .002
Yamaico Navarro 30 .279 .296 -.017
Josh Harrison 29 .231 .301 -.070

 

Six of the nine everyday players (including both Jones and Casey McGehee as everyday players) have hit worse than projected. Four of those players are producing at a clip at least 50 points short of their projection, with Rod Barajas pulling up the rear with a wOBA 150 points lower than was projected. Those are the ingredients of a pretty feeble team offense.

The good news is that these struggles are unlikely to last all season. It generally takes about a season’s worth of plate appearances for wOBA to stabilize, so we are still right in the thick of random variation. It is very likely that most of these players will move closer to their original projections over the remainder of the season, which means better times could be coming for the team’s offense.

Of course, that is not a guarantee. Many of these players are decent candidates to miss their projections dramatically. Barajas and Clint Barmes are both around the age where a sudden and steep drop-off in performance would not be unheard of. Alex Presley entered the season with only 256 career plate appearances in the big leagues, which makes him very difficult to project. Neil Walker and Jose Tabata have relatively limited track records as well.

All in all, the Pirates offense is likely to improve to some degree. The unknown is exactly how much it will improve.

Note: These stats were current entering tonight’s game. In fact, as I was writing that second paragraph, Barajas hit his walk-off home run.

Analysis

  • Q What is the problem with the Pirates offense?
    A Almost everyone is underperforming

    Q Why is almost everyone underperforming?
    A ?

    • salempirate
      May 9, 2012 8:27 am

      As is often the case, I may be wrong, but I think if you’d look at last season, you’d find the same thing happened. IIRC, only Doumit and Snyder improved from 2010. Snyder had so few PA that he’s not very much of a sample. Gregg Ritchie is a common thread to both years.

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