P2Daily: With Home Runs Down, System Putting The Pressure On The Bases

It may sound crazy to say, especially after watching Altoona score 19 runs in their previous two games, but offense has been down in the Pirates system this year.

You could probably point to a couple of things, as this issue isn’t just isolated to the minors, but also notably the major league level as well (and not just the Pirates hapless offense). We’ve seen quite a few hitters struggle in the system, maybe most notably Oneil Cruz and 2021’s breakout player, Matt Fraizer.

With scoring, and in turn home runs, down in baseball, the Pirates system has picked it up in another facet of the game looking to create more run opportunities: Stolen Bases.

On a per-game basis, only Greensboro is trending down from last year when compared to the current season, and it’s not too far off (1.32/game in 2022, 1.44/game in 2021).

As a collective system, the Pirates swiped just under one bag per game (0.89) last year, with the Grasshoppers leading the way with a total of 173. The Grasshoppers were also the only team to average more than a stolen base per game, with Indianapolis close to swiping a whole bag less per game than Greensboro in 2021.

Fast forward to this season and every team is averaging at least one steal per game.

Indianapolis has seen the biggest increase in success, currently sitting second in the International League in stolen bases, after finishing 19-out-of-20 teams in 2021.

Through an entire season, the organization is on pace to steal 190 more bases than they did in 2021 over the same number of games played. That’s not factoring in that Triple-A will be playing more games this year, so their total increase be even more.

On the home run hitting side of things, the system is currently averaging less than one per game, an overall of just 0.19. Doesn’t seem like too much but looking at it over a full season, that’s nearly 100 less home runs by the time it is all said and done.

On the stolen base front, the Pirates have 19 players with at least five stolen bases with Ji-Hwan Bae (10), Oneil Cruz (9), and Matt Gorski (9) all leading the way.

Even Mason Martin, much more known for his power, has stolen six bases while hitting four home runs.

While the Pirates being aggressive on the bases isn’t anything new, it is good to see them up it even more in the absence of some the power they usually get and it’ll be interesting to see if the green light stays on as these players make their way to Pittsburgh.

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roberto

At the risk of exposing my ignorance, how do weather and small samples play into this? Hitting a home run in Altoona in April sounds really implausible.

jedeweese

Growing up in Altoona in the 70s, even Memorial Day weekend could be very cold and rainy.

roberto

Or May

tedwins

Not ignorant mate, colder weather leads to less homers…. humid / hotter weather leads to balls carrying, i get the science explanation, but I never truly seem, internally, to accept it🤣🤣

John Fluharty

Wondering what the caught stealing numbers look like. Extra storm amazing they’re nice but not if you’re getting caught at high rate too.

Wilbur Miller

Just eyeballing it quickly, Indy and Altoona are toward the top of their leagues in SB but not high up in CS, i.e., not getting caught as much. Greensboro isn’t doing as well. Bradenton isn’t running much but has about an 83% success rate.

John Fluharty

Thanks

Wilbur Miller

Just to follow up, team and league SB%:

Indy — 83%
League — 80%

Altoona — 82%
League — 79%

GBO — 75%
League — 79%

BRD — 83%
League — 73%

Rank in total SB:

Indy: 2 of 20
Altoona: 3 of 12
GBO: 5T of 12
BRD: 6T of 10

NMR

Nice work, Wilbur, thanks.

jedeweese

The log jam of middle infielders is about to get even more congealed with Newman and Bae entering the room. When is is time to cut bait, and who goes first??

I think they give starts to Newman in a forlorn hope to get SOMETHING for him at the trade deadline.
Tucker is safe at Indy through early next summer.
I opine that both should be gone by Aug 3rd this year.

Bae looks like an improvement over both Castillo and Castro.
—————-

Does Greg Allen get a chance, or did the injury rob it from him?

Don’t get me started on Yoshi, DeJong, Hembree, VanMeter

All these questions to answer, even if the “right” solution is hit. we are STILL looking at a 98+ loss team. (Wake me up for 2024)

Pirate’s fan for life.   :wpds_cry: 

NMR

Other than speed, what do you think Bae does better than Castillo? Skill sets look pretty darn simiilar, but maybe I’m not seeing it right.

Catch_22

I’m not Jed, but…

I don’t think either Bae or Castillo project as everyday 2bmen in the majors. They’re projected as utility players. Bae probably projects as the better of the 2 due to being a more versatile defender, especially if he’s competent in CF. Plus as you mentioned, it’s nice to have speed off the bench. Additionally, Bae is left-handed and has that Aoki-esque Asian slap swing.

NMR

I feel that buddy, couldn’t agree more.

jeffw3000

In the case of Tucker, I believe he is out of options this year, which means the Pirates probably need to make a decision this season, or part ways with him. They could try to DFA him, but there is a good chance someone would grab him on waivers. If he makes it through waivers the Pirates might keep him around as Minor League depth next year.

tedwins

Good stuff Anthony. Noticed that Bae has 10 out of those 19 Indy SB’s, he sure is having a very good season in his step up to AAA…. Think I talk about him too much🤣

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

They finished 19th last year, not 19 SBs lol they currently have 54, after only 71 all of last season

tedwins

Imagine my embarrasement being shown up from the great BNP, hope I can recover from such a misstep🤣

John Fluharty

We won’t make you change your name to tedloses just yet.

tedwins

I think it is already implied mate🤷‍♂️😢🤣🤣

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

It’s just clarification! I think you’ll survive lol

tedwins

Im so very fragile, but your kind response lets the healing begin🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

skliesen

I personally love that form of baseball. Stolen bases, hit and run, hit behind the runner, etc. Heck, I even loved it when Jay Bell would sacrifice bunt Wally Bachman up so Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Slyke would have the opportunity to hit with a runner in scoring position.

Bar looks like an ideal lead off hitter for that brand of baseball.

tedwins

Thumbs up mate, though Im not a huge bunting guy, speed kills and Bae is, imho, a seemingly sure thing to be productive mlb player. But what do I know, i seem to have an irrational view on Bae, maybe his biggest fan which leads to bias🤣🤣

jeffw3000

I like Bae as well. He just seems to do well at every level, and is very consistent. He always hits around .270-.280, gets on base a lot, and uses his speed well when he is on base. If he keeps doing what he is doing now, I would live the Pirates to take a look at Bae this year.

I like power, and great hitting, but I also like small ball. I am a fan of bunting when you have weak hitters who bunt well. a great way to score runs especially with a weak hitting team. I remember when they would have Bell bunt a lot. I also loved it when Moreno would get on, steal second, and then Foli would bunt over to third with one out. You could then count on Parker or Stargell to easily bring home with at least a Sac fly or single.

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