Second half offense in the league is up so far. Way up.
Unfortunately not for the Pittsburgh Pirates as of yet. They had a Pre All-Star break OPS of .660 and so far their Post All-Star break is .506 (Per Fangraphs).
It’s only a week’s worth of games removed from the break, but offense has so far risen from a league average of .707 OPS to .739 OPS (Numbers from Fangraphs as of Wednesday afternoon).
Here are the splits from the previous three full seasons:
- 2021 – 1st Half : .718 OPS — 2nd Half: .739 OPS
- 2019 – 1st Half: .754 OPS — 2nd Half: .762 OPS
- 2018 – 1st Half: .725 OPS — 2nd Half: .731 OPS
This would be a much higher difference if it were to hold over the rest of the season. But it wouldn’t be too much of an outlier as 2021 saw a relatively similar second half surge when compared to 2018 and 2019 which saw far smaller increases. 2020 was a shortened season that saw a first half .738 OPS and a second half .742 OPS.
If this is indeed a trend towards a consistent uptick in offense, it should create an interesting test for Pirates’ pitchers who have been seeing positive results lately.
This weekend the Pirates will face the Philadelphia Phillies for four games. Philly brings in an offense that sits 11th in MLB with a .725 OPS, or 6th in the NL. They have also hit 126 HR’s which is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 6th in MLB. Their pitching staff carries a 3.79 ERA that is 9th in MLB.
The Phillies themselves haven’t gotten off to a strong second half having lost four of their six games post All-Star break. One thing they have in common with the Pirates is they were recently swept by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. They are essentially out of the NL East division race — not mathematically as the New York Mets could always Mets at any time — sitting 9.5 games back of the New York Mets, but are currently in a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot.
We probably shouldn’t expect any offensive outbursts from the Pirates, but again this should be a nice test for the Pirates pitching staff.
Phillies @ Pirates
Time: 7:05 PM EST
Pirates Starter: Zach Thompson (3-7, 4.64)
Marlins Starter: Zack Wheeler (8-5, 2.78)
Thompson Notes: Zach Thompson had already reached a career high in games started recently, and in his previous start against the Miami Marlins set a new career high in MLB innings pitched in a season with 75.2 IP (previous high was 75 IP in 2021 for Marlins). In 2021 he pitched a total of 90 innings between MLB and Triple-A, and he is closing in on that number quickly. In 2016 while with the Chicago White Sox organization he pitched a total of 140.2 innings between two levels. He had one of his worst starts to date for the Pirates in his last start when he gave up seven earned runs in 5.1 IP. He’ll look to get back on track after breaking a streak of seven consecutive starts without allowing more than two earned runs in a game.
1. Kevin Newman (R) 2B
2. Oneil Cruz (L) SS
3. Ke’Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
4. Ben Gamel (L) LF
5. Bligh Madris (L) RF
6. Greg Allen (S) CF
7. Cal Mitchell (L) DH
8. Josh VanMeter (L) 1B
9. Tyler Heineman (S) C
1. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
2. Rhys Hoskins (R) 1B
3. Alec Bohm (R) 3B
4. Darick Hall (L) DH
5. Nick Castellanos (R) RF
6. Bryson Stott (L) 2B
7. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
8. Matt Vierling (R) CF
9. Garrett Stubbs (L) C