Pirates Discussion: The Right Fit

At a certain point, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be competitive to the point where we can finally discuss defense honestly.

One given is that Ke’Bryan Hayes is good. He is really good. Defensive metrics can be difficult to understand and it’s hard to determine which are best to go by, but Hayes is atop defensive leaderboards in all categories. Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) has him first among 3B with 19 DRS. Using Outs Above Average (OAA) he’s first again with 15 OAA.

On the opposite spectrum, 2021 is looking like an anomaly and Bryan Reynolds should be moved off CF sooner than later. Of center fielders with at least 500 innings, he’s 26th out of 27 with -9 DRS. Using OAA he is dead last out of 45 with a -6 OAA.

When using a minimum of 50  attempts on Baseball Savant, only four players (aside from Hayes) even register above 0 in OAA, with Jake Marisnick (+6 OAA) being one and not with the team: Tucupita Marcano (+3 ), Greg Allen (+2), and Jack Suwinski (+2).

Jack Suwinski is promising being that his defense wasn’t highly thought of by scouts. He’s played 336.2 innings in LF (3 DRS & 0 OAA ), 90 innings in CF (1 DRS & 1 OAA), and 247 innings in RF (2 DRS & 1 OAA).

Marcano’s defense is rated better at 2B (-1 DRS & 4 OAA) than in LF (-1 DRS & -1 OAA), but he’s going to need to hit more if he’s to try and sustain a starting role.

The main man everyone wants to talk about is Oneil Cruz. This is where metrics begin really disagreeing and get fishy. If you use DRS of SS’s with at least 550 innings, he’s tied with Xander Bogaerts for 13th out of 27 with 2 DRS. If you use OAA then he ranks 28th out of 37 at -3 OAA.

There is a lot of potential with some of the young kids, but at a certain point management is going to need to look into improving in all facets of the game. Putting players in the best position to succeed. The whole “respecting your players” argument bothers me in seeing a preference toward a veteran preference, even if it’s detrimental to the team. When you use Andrew McCutchen as an example, he almost immediately moved off of center field when he left Pittsburgh, yet was expected to stay there if in Pittsburgh. With someone like Cruz, you could get by with what mostly grades out as average defense because of his bat’s potential.

******

On Thursday night the Pirates didn’t have it on either side of the ball.

JT Brubaker lasted three innings with five earned runs against. He eventually left the game with what was described as right lat discomfort. You have to wonder if the may shut him down for the rest of the season.

The Pirates offense only had four hits against the New York Mets. Bryan Reynolds collected two in four at-bats while Michael Chavis had the other two hits with their only extra base hit (a double) in three AB’s.

The Pirates offense struck out 16 times with Mets starter Carlos Carrasco whiffing 11 batters.

Eric Stout threw two innings with two walks, a hit, two strike outs, and an earned run.

Robert Stephenson had a clean inning on only 9 pitches.

Then Yohan Ramirez threw the last two innings with two hits, two walks, three strike outs and one earned run.

Game ended 7-1 with the Pirates four game winning streak coming to a halt.

Pirates @ Mets

Time: 7:10 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Mitch Keller (5-10, 4.01)

Mets Starter: Taijuan Walker (11-4, 3.48)

Keller Notes: Mitch Keller threw seven shutout innings in his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals, which is two consecutive shutouts over 13.0 combined innings. He is currently 5.2 IP from surpassing his 2018 season of 142.1 IP in the minors which is a career high. Keller has been mixing his pitch usage in each of his recent starts without an exact trend showing itself yet.

UPDATE: Pirates lose Bligh Madris on waivers

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forkball

I would like to hear what Hayes has to say about the play. And I am sure that there are more moments than people realize where food, gum, sunflowers seeds, and, yes, chewing tobacco actually affect a play. It certainly doesn’t make it right…

John Dreker

I think this video made my head explode. I was sitting there watching it saying I can’t believe Hayes has his glove off in the middle of a play that he could have easily been involved in….and then he took a snack break! what…help me here, my brain exploded so it’s not working right. Did he really take a snack break in the middle of a play right in front of him? what! Hayes did that? Literally would have been my last guess for someone doing that https://twitter.com/Dejan_Kovacevic/status/1570969342963232769

skliesen

Is it so hard to respect the game?

I love Hayes more than most, but this is just unacceptable behavior. Especially considering he is one of the stalwarts of the team. To be a winner, one must first think and act like a winner. Do the stuff, both big and small, that winners do. All. The. Time.

Wilbur Miller

Is Gamel contributing something that I’m missing? Just wondering whether there’s some reason beyond pure sentimentality that he has to bat cleanup every day.

chappy

Allen was clearly out but it doesn’t make sense that a fielder can totally block access to the bag.

1979andCounting

I’m questioning that reversal. Allen could have had a finger or two underneath of bag along with three top fingers of second baseman’s leg. I think that’s why Allen was so pissed. Can a leg seal off the entire 3 ” inch thick bag? I don’t agree.

forkball

Underwood has grown on me

Wilbur Miller

Moss will do that.

forkball

I’m sounding like an old fogey – but the head shaking just doesn’t look good at the rate they are doing it…

Anthony

This comment is not in real time, but Cruz needs to improve his decision making w/r/t trying to make the highlight reel, over-the-shoulder catch when the outfielder has a clear line of sight and forward path to the ball. Although they’re not ruled as errors, they are mental mistakes, and he keeps make them.

1979andCounting

Agreed about his chasing OF pop-ups. But the responsibility lies with Jack to call for that ball…….and I don’t think he did.

forkball

I’m sure there are more people starting to pay attention to this team now – that’s a start!

TNBucs
b mcferren

whacked that ball!

robertkasperski

He got that 1/16” more of the ball that time!

PirateRican21

1979andCounting

I don’t want to see Diaz……but I really won’t mind. He’s the best closer in baseball imho.
Which means we’ve only got the 8th to do any damage.

TNBucs

Wish they didn’t cut to a commercial during his entrance, the best entrance in baseball.

PirateRican21

I didn’t know Walker was this good, he has 4 pitches working and he’s moving the ball up/down, left and right.

TNBucs

He’s one of my top hopes for a FA signing, but probably out of our price range.

robertkasperski

if Oneil got 1/16;” higher on that ball………

1979andCounting

Loved Don Adams in that role!

1979andCounting

Hmmm, Key did not go on contact from third. We’re making progress Derrick.

PirateRican21

There are so many at bats that Suwinski doesn’t take his bat off his shoulder.

PirateRican21

Nice inning by Keller, but I have to say I wasn’t thrilled about his fastball locations.

PirateRican21

That’s how you avoid setting K records, go all 1950’s and swing early and often, 5 pitches thrown by Walker

John Dreker

Pirates going hard for that franchise strikeout record tonight. They have a good chance with that lineup. Here’s where they stand now with 18 games left:

  1. 2012: 1,354 strikeouts
  2. 2022: 1,343

As a great side note, this teams ranks 127th in plate appearances out of the 141 seasons in team history. So they aren’t doing this the easy way…

Last edited 17 days ago by John Dreker
Wilbur Miller

Actually, they ARE doing this the easy way. Take strikes, swing at balls. That’s the recipe for striking out.

John Dreker

Swing hard and hope for the best. That’s a great motto for team. I picture the walk back to the dugout:
coach: what kind of pitch did he throw?
strikeout victim: I don’t know
coach: well, did you swing hard?
sv: Yes!
coach: can you swing harder?
sv: I’ll try
coach: If that doesn’t work, swing harder harder…don’t forget to hope for the best!

PirateRican21

You left out “keep you eyes open next time.”

John Dreker

That sounds helpful so I doubt anyone in the dugout is saying that

RAS TN

Rays Claim Bligh Madris… how about that

NMR

AWESOME topic, Jeff.

The caveat to Cruz’s defensive production is that the stats you used are cumulative, and he’s played less than half the innings of his comparative starting shortstops. That means without massive improvement, he’s inarguably one of if not the worst defensive shortstops in baseball. UZR/150, which normalizes opportunities, pegs him as third worst among those with at least 500 innings played.

The phenomenal part about mentioning Cutch is that fans spent half a decade trying to run him off centerfield only now to f*cking BEG to keep Oneil at SS.

Guess what fellas, Oneil Cruz can “play” SS like Cutch can “play CF.

Poorly.

Whether or not someone can “play” a position is absolutely fucking meaningless. What matters is how well they play it.

ArkyWags

Right. If this team isn’t gonna cash in lots of prospect capital, it better revamp defensive alignment and positioning to enhance it. An OF of Reynolds/Swag/Cruz sounds better. Cruz is an “Infielder to the outfield” experiment I’d be ok with.

ArkyWags

For some reason I can’t edit my comment but that should read: cash in prospect capital for a good starter with years of control like Gallan.

AdministrativeSky236

I agree with this, though i guess my question is whether our potential other RF plus cruz at SS is stronger than cruz in RF with whoever our starting SS would be. Though i guess since we arent going to the playoffs next year anyway, it might be worth establishing cruz in his long term position regardless

NMR

That last line is the kicker for me.

WHEN Cruz establishes himself as a premier offensive performer, we’re kidding ourselves if we think he’s ever moving off SS. Rip the bandaid off now, don’t make the same mistakes we keep making.

1979andCounting

Indy did try and rip the bandaid off…….and Cruz whined and pouted. We need buy-in from Cruz. I’m actually skeptical that he can develop into a competent OFer based on what I heard from his OF play in Indy. He should be able to. It requires fast twitch muscles on first steps which we think he has at SS. And he surely has the sprint speed to cover ground. It’s a dilemma on how do we force a change upon a unicorn……??? This is great fodder for the offseason at P2 😀

NMR

You speak the truth, ’79.

The irony of ironies for me is that by way of Cruz’s relative success, what are the chances that Kebryan Hayes isn’t actually a better defender at SS? Think about it! Nobody questions the range or arm, and he’s a hell of a lot more consistent.

Be legends and put Cruz at the position the Dodgers were developing him (3B) and make Kebryan the unicorn SS.

You’re always allowed to call me a moron. 😉

1979andCounting

I think it would work……but I’d have to see Key play a bunch of Spring Training games at SS. It should placate Cruz too, keeping him in the IF.

PirateRican21

Gosh I want to but I can, I love this idea, granted moving a gold glove caliber player may not be advisable, but I like it.

PirateRican21

I can’t, not I can…running out of excuses….

ravidesai1984
AdministrativeSky236

Davis, priester, and gonzales were probably my top 3 choices to go so glad they are all on the roster!

Colin

Has Gorski, Selby, Tahnaj, and Omar Cruz as well

AdministrativeSky236

Imo if the team is going to try keep cruz at short, which I am ok with as long as he isnt a huge drag there defensively and bottom 50% is more than fine, then we need to emphasize a big 1B that has a strong glove. 1B can’t be expected to bail him out all the time, but going into next year knowing we have an erratic arm as SS should be coupled with a guy who is going to pick him up on some errant throws. I appreciate chavis’ efforts there, but unfortunately I dont think he can gain 4-5 inches of height over the offseason

PirateRican21

Would love for that 1b to be a huge right handed bats that kills lefties.

piratemike

That would require BC actually doing things that real GM’s do.

piratemike

I wrote yesterday that I hoped they don’t embarrass themselves, well they didn’t…. they just played like a last place team playing against a first – place team with much better resources.

1979andCounting

Yes, but we’re just splitting hairs over whether that was an “embarrassing” performance or a “pathetic” offensive performance.

piratemike

Embarrassing would be dumb mistakes that make the video highlights or losing the game in some strange fashion. The game last night was just another typical Pirates game, nothing weird.

skliesen

I’m expecting Keller to pitch great tonight. Unfortunately, I’m also expecting hitters and bullpen to play poorly.

PirateRican21

Is gonna be a good test for sure for Keller, the Mets have the type of left handed bats that might cause him problems. I like the approaches he had on his last outing.

PirateRican21

Expecting to see lots of 4 seamers and curve to lefties.

1979andCounting

In Keller’s own words, he’s going to throw what is working the best any given ballgame. Not a bad approach. Keeps other team and their hitting coach guessing during pre-game prep.

RAS TN

That should be the only approach and the catcher should be the one that’s
setting the batters up…and not the Dugout…

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