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Williams: The Pirates Are Severely Lacking on Offense

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Oneil Cruz said he was losing his confidence at the plate.

The comment was made to reporters, including Alex Stumpf of MLB.com, following the game on April 21st. Cruz was batting .209/.261/.326 with a 40.2% strikeout rate at the time. Since those comments, Cruz has performed much better, with a .346/.393/.423 line and a 25% strikeout rate over the last week.

The Pirates are relying on Cruz to be an impact hitter. He’s got one of the loudest bats in the system, with effortless power from a 6′ 7″ frame, and the ability to adjust and get to balls that most can’t reach — laying an extended power swing on those pitches.

Cruz has yet to play a full season in the majors, so we don’t really have a feel for the type of hitter he can be, despite seeing all of his potential. In his combined time in the majors, the 25-year-old has a .238/.300/.426 line in 530 plate appearances, with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases. If those were rookie numbers, they wouldn’t be bad, with the hope for more walks and hits to boost the power and speed production.

Hitting is a game of confidence. The very best in the game fail to reach base 60% of the time, and fail to get a hit 70% of the time. I’d imagine for a hitter, it’s difficult to really feel the difference between failing to get a hit 70% of the time and failing 80% of the time. Sure, we can see the results by doing some math in the stat lines, but the player himself probably doesn’t notice the extra 1-2 hits per week in the sea of failure.

The Pirates have had issues across the board with their offense. It’s not just Cruz who has struggled, but almost the entire team. Their offense ranks 24th in wOBA and 25th in wRC+. The hitting coach, Andy Haines, took over after the 2021 season, when the team ranked 28th/29th in those stats. The offense has not improved, and neither have the individuals.

The rest of this post is for Pirates Prospects subscribers!

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

This week’s featured column for Patreon subscribers looks at the below-average offense of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the idea of replacing hitting coach Andy Haines as a solution.

**Williams: The Pirates Are Severely Lacking on Offense – READING

Jared Jones has been putting up better numbers than any Pirates rookie I can remember for decades. I looked at the early results from the right-hander, who is a Rookie of the Year candidate.

**Jared Jones is Having a Special Start to His MLB Career

The Pirates drafted Henry Davis first overall in 2021, with hopes of getting a power hitting catcher. He’s not hitting for power this year, and grades below-average behind the plate, which might necessitate a change.

**Henry Davis Has Questions on Both Sides of His Game

Paul Skenes is schedule for a two-start week this week, for the first time in his pro career. As the top prospect gets to a regular workload, I look at when he might arrive in the Majors, and how many innings he might throw.

**When Will Paul Skenes Arrive in the Majors?

The Pirates went with Jared Triolo as their starting second baseman out of Spring Training, which was a move that was deserved. After his early results, and early results from Nick Gonzales in Triple-A, they might need to make a change.

**Jared Triolo Looks Like a Major Leaguer, But Not a Starter

Depth is going to be crucial for the 2024 Pirates to have a winning season. They’ve already seen a few players step up to contribute in the Majors. I looked at five depth options who have excelled this year, led by RHP Hunter Stratton.

**Five Depth Options Who Have Excelled For the 2024 Pirates

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
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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