Pirates Prospects Daily: Seasonal Statistical Sequencing

At the end of Monday’s game, Jack Suwinski has a .778 OPS.

That’s slightly higher than Andrew McCutchen, who has a .775 OPS.

It’s also higher than the recent Ke’Bryan Hayes surge, leading to a .755 OPS.

Yet, if you gauge Pirates fans, the most disappointing of that group is Suwinski.

Baseball is a “what have you done for me lately” game. Suwinski went 2-for-4 with his 23rd homer of the year tonight. Prior to tonight’s game, he had been slumping for most of the second half. Since the All-Star Break, Suwinski has a .140/.268/.281 line in 142 plate appearances.

He’s not the only one struggling in the second half. Andrew McCutchen, with a similar overall OPS, is batting .222/.364/.317 in the second half. A few crucial differences are that McCutchen is still getting on base during his struggles, and also gets a bit of a pass for being over a decade older than Suwinski.

Ke’Bryan Hayes has seen the opposite trend. He began the year batting .252/.290/.393 in the first half. Hayes has seen his offense take off in the second half, batting .300/.350/.536 in the second half. He also homered tonight, adding his 12th of the year.

At this point in the season, Pirates fans are looking for hope for the 2024 season and beyond. The upward trend from Hayes at the plate is something that provides encouragement for the following season. The downward trend from Suwinski raises the opposite concerns as to whether those struggles will continue into the following year.

Breaking down the numbers further, Suwinski really just had a bad month of August. His month of July produced a .903 OPS, although that was heavily driven by the first week.

At the end of the day, you can break down the overall numbers in an infinite amount of ways to justify whatever trend you’re trying to justify.

At the end of Monday, Suwinski had 23 home runs and a season OPS on par with Andrew McCutchen. He’s been a streaky hitter this year, but those streaks run hot and cold, and have averaged out to a nice overall age-25 season.


I’ve been wanting to write today’s column for a while.

I’ve been covering minor league baseball for 15 seasons. That has included countless conversations with players, coaches, scouts, and executives from across the majors. It’s included many late-season trips to report on the development of individual players. I can’t count how many minor league games I’ve seen across levels that aren’t all in existence at this point.

At a certain point, after gathering information for years while studying a subject, you gain true knowledge. You see the flow of a proper development system. You see how scouting is meant to feed into that system. But you also see what it really takes to be a Major League player.

Baseball is a career. It’s a really cool career. In a world where we are all experiencing the same perpetual record-setting temperatures every year, here are the best athletes showing the ways to keep the human mind, body, and spirit in proper alignment to achieve instant-reaction, in-the-moment success while baring the elements. The players on the field put their body through the extreme (as displayed in this graphic, but highly educational Twitter thread from Travis Snider on the struggles from turf toe). This ends up advancing our medical knowledge of how to repair and properly align the human body.

We also get a glimpse into the proper work-life balance, and how to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Baseball isn’t just about winning and losing, but finding a way to live a healthy and productive lifestyle on and off the field. Not just throwing as many hours into the job that it takes to win, but finding a way to win on the job in a healthy amount of hours each week that allows for a productive home life and personal growth.

Yet, at the end of the day, it’s a pitcher trying to throw a baseball that the batter can’t hit; with the batter trying to hit the baseball where the fielder can’t field; and the fielder trying to throw the baseball faster than the base runner can run; and in the end, the catcher trying to make the catch and tag faster than the slider can avoid; all in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans who paid their hard-earned money to experience this moment — Live. That feeling where there is no work tomorrow, and there were no real problems today, because you just experienced something that had never been seen before, and might never be seen again.

And that will give you something to talk about the next time work or problems become too overwhelming.

Williams: The Path to the Major Leagues

Tsung-Che Cheng homered twice for Altoona on Sunday. Check out all of the weekend action in the latest Prospect Watch.

Pirates Prospect Watch: Tsung-Che Cheng Homers Twice


PIRATES (64-74) VS Brewers

Score: Pirates 4, Brewers 2
Pittsburgh Starter: Luis Ortiz, RHP (4.90)
–Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Jack Suwinski, CF-RF (2-for-4, HR [23], 2 RBI)
Attendance: 10,831

Notable Performers

  • Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (2-for-4, HR [12], 3B)
  • Andrew McCutchen, DH (2-for-3, 2 2B)
  • Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K)
  • Colin Holderman, RHP (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K)
  • David Bednar, RHP (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K)

One Sentence Recap: What if the Pirates were to finish their season like they started it?


Here’s that Suwinski home run, coming on a 1-0 pitch and driven to deep center field.

Ke’Bryan Hayes has been hitting the ball well, launching a home run to the deepest part of the park on a full count.


  • The Pirates selected the contract of RHP Hunter Stratton from the Indianapolis Indians. To make room, LHP Rob Zastryzny has been designated for assignment.
  • Stratton is from the Bristol, Virginia area, which previously had a Pirates affiliate. Tim Hayes of the Bristol Herald Courier detailed the journey for Stratton, the first Major League player from his area.


“The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” – Fiona Apple

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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How about the stats that used to matter (runs, hits and batting average) but few people even seem to notice these days preferring instead to look up and quote analytics that I suspect no one really fully understands?

Reynolds: runs-70, hits-129, BA-.264
Suwinski: runs-52, hits 76, BA-.207

Comparable? Hardly, but of course OPS, wRC+ etc. make so much more sense, even though I seriously doubt most people have any notion what goes into them or how to calculate them.

Call me old-fashioned, outdated or whatever, but I always thought scoring runs was the main idea of the game and that being able to hit the ball mattered. Guess analytics has made them obsolete?


Different stats tell different parts of the truth. Relying just on counting stats can be really misleading. In the Reynolds and Suwinski comparison, you have to allow for the fact that Reynolds has come to the plate 100 more times than Suwinski. He also has better hitters behind him to drive him in because he usually bats 2nd while Suwinski bats 5th or 6th, and 8th when there’s a lefty on the mound. You’ll score more runs hitting in front of Cutch and Joe than you will hitting in front of Bae and Hedges.

For rate stats, OPS is a little bit better than BA because it gives a hitter credit for getting on base from walks as well as hits, and also for hitting doubles and dingers rather than just singles. It’s not perfect. None of the stats are. But it does tell a little bit more of the story than just hits or runs. wRC+ tells a little bit more than OPS because it accounts for ballparks. It’s a lot harder to put up an .800 OPS in Baltimore than it is in Colorado. WAR tells a little bit more because it includes baserunning and defense. But even the people who live by the newer stats will tell you they don’t tell you everything. No one who works at Fangraphs is going to tell you definitively that a guy with 3.1 WAR is better than a guy with 2.9 WAR, all else being equal.

Whatever stats you like that let you enjoy the game, have at it.


My problem with WAR has always been it’s rather arbitrary baseline of what constitutes a “replacement player.” I love OPS because it gives credit to guys who get on base. Going back to original poster’s point about socring runs. Well you can’t steal first base, another old gem of a baseball cliche. If you don’t get on base a lot you don’t score many runs.


Oh brother, there are more problems with WAR than the baseline. Positional adjustments for offense. The DH adjustment. Defense runs being measured above or below average, as opposed to a “replacement” standard. the imprecision of defensive statistics in the first place…

It’s just a rough guide. I feel pretty confident that a 3-win hitter is better than a 2.5-win hitter, given equal time. But the closer together those numbers guess, the more the error bars take over.


“get” not “guess”


I totally agree with you. It’s just always interesting (and fun) that baseball stats are held so sacred when they are played on thirty different shaped fields with so many variables involved. (If Aaron and Mays switched home parks, some of their stats would be drastically different.) Because of this, I have a hard time when players final evaluation now often comes to WAR. And I will always believe that Elroy Face should be in the HOF 🙂


The baseball irony in this is that WAR is the only statistic mentioned so far that actually accounts for variation in fields! 😉


My Dad grew up in the thirties and the experts always said, had DiMaggio and Ted Williams switched teams they both would have broken Babe Ruth’s record.


I’m with you on OPS. and WAR. Why are they so definitive now? I really don’t get it. Each HR is certainly not the same. Are these analytics good enough that they can somehow include the complete situation of the game? I really don’t think so. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the introduction of these stats, it’s just that there are reasons for past analysis that are still good today. The ability of a man to get on-base, but there are times that are better than others. For instance if Endy reached base on a bunt attempt the other night when there were two out, would that be considered a positive outcome. In the circumstance, it would not. Stats are just a part of the analysis. And I would much rather have those three mentioned at the plate then Jack at this point in the season. That OPS is misleading.


There is another missing point abut Suwinski that are inapplicable to Reynolds and Hayes….Suwinski has extreme splits v. lhps.

There are two solutions….one is that Suwinski simply becomes mediocre v. lhps or the Pirates find a respectable platoon pairing (better than Conner Joe) to platoon with Jack.


Jack will always be Jack. I like that more than his inconsistency frustrates me. The one improvement I would like to see from him is situational hitting.


Team sports = true reality TV


Also, related to Suwinski, Mackey reported a few days ago (I just saw it today) that the Pirates are planning to bring Haines back. I’m surprised, though I also thought using Haines as a scapegoat when he is “Shelton’s guy” wouldn’t have been fair.

They should both stay or go down together, and since Cherington had already endorsed Shelton I suppose I can’t complain that they’re keeping Haines (I do want to see my favorite team be fair).


Shelton confirmed on the Cook & Joe Show this morning on 93.7 The Fan that Haines will absolutely be back next season.


Give Shelton credit for picking a great time to announce this, the morning after Haines’ prized pupil hits a huge HR (I’ve lost count of how many times our broadcasters have told us about how hard Suwinski has been working with Haines :)).


The perspective on Suwinski is interesting, and one I was thinking about just last night. Even more interesting is comparing him to Reynolds–I don’t think anyone who watches the Pirates would think they’ve had similar seasons because of the sequencing and the different levels of confidence we have in each (when Reynolds struggles, I figure it’s just a matter of time; when Suwinski struggles, I worry that the league has him figured out). However, their overall stats are nearly identical:

Reynolds: .784
Suwinski: .778

Reynolds: 108
Suwinski: 109

Reynolds: 2.0
Suwinski: 2.1


There’s more there for both of these guys. And the more I’m talking about comes in the form of more consistency.

BRey is far more consistent than Jack, but not nearly consistent enough from month to month as a player of his ability and experience should be.

You can just as easily add in Hayes to the discussion. And if you want a sneak preview for next year, expect similar issues for Cruz.

A good hitting coach earns his money by preventing prolonged slumps for the team’s best hitters. With Haines coming back, don’t expect much to change on this front.


Suwinski is the epitome of a streaky player.
Reynolds just goes through the ebb and flows like every other player in the league. He’s only had a month below average

  • April .926 OPS
  • May .726
  • June .799
  • July .577
  • August .898

June was his one truly bad month. It appears Hayes has figured it out and I don’t think we’ll see big swings in play from him or Cruz.


You’re probably right about Reynolds. Seems worse than it actually is due to my expectations.

And I hope you’re right about next year with Cruz and Hayes. Fingers crossed.


That’s pretty interesting, TNBucs. I was one who posited that I thought Suwinski was one who would make a positive step forward this year because I thought he was one who kind of, idk, had the makeup?

Interested to see how “Mike Wazowski” does going forward.



There are two big differences, though, which also may affect our perceptions:

K rate
Reynolds: ~20%
Suwinski: ~33%

Reynolds: 88 wRC+ with a 19% K rate vs. LHP, 117 wRC+ with a 21% K rate vs. RHP.
Suwinski: 51 wRC+ with a 47% K rate vs. LHP, 127 wRC+ with a 29% K rate vs. RHP.

Those K’s can’t help but leave an impression even though K’s tend to be overrated. More relevant is that Suwinski’s apparent helplessness against lefties raises the question of whether he’s more than the strong side of a platoon. That’s a fine outcome, but may impact how we view him vs. “everyday” players.


To state the obvious, this team could really use a short-side platoon CF.

To state maybe the less obvious, those don’t exactly grow on trees.

Has Harrison Bader’s stock fallen far enough that he would sign a pillow contract with the Pirates, I wonder…



If Bae shows that he’s a major leaguer, then an option is to play Bae in CF when a lefty is on the mound and as part of a rotation at 2B when a righty is on the mound. Not only has Bae hit lefties slightly better this year but he was also slightly better against lefties in the minors last year. But he still has a lot to prove.


Even if Bader has only a few suitors, would he choose one who may only platoon him?

No way Pirates sign Bader and force either Jack or Davis to DH.

I think the more likely scenario is they continue using Bae in CF to spell Jack on his days off. I suppose Gorski could enter the conversation, too.


A team that’s actually competitive signs a real CF and moves Jack to a big-side RF platoon where he belongs.


Right, but this is the Pirates. I see this playing out the same way next year. They will bring in a couple rh options that will fail and he’ll end up playing way too much.


Or trade, that’s still legal too.


Stratton has certainly done enough lately to deserve a look.

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