Top Five: Longest Bucco Blasts of 2012

The Pirates clubbed 170 home runs as a team last season, which was the fourth-highest total in the National League. Their 170 bombs was a big increase from a total of 107 in 2011, when they finished 27th out of 30 MLB teams in the HR department. Here’s a look at the five longest Bucco homers of the 2012 season, via ESPN Home Run Tracker:

5. Andrew McCutchen - July 17th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Christian Friedrich
Stadium: Coors Field
Video
True Distance: 448 feet

4. Pedro Alvarez – September 16th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Jeff Beliveau
Stadium: Wrigley Field
Video
True Distance: 449 feet

3. Garrett Jones – June 2nd, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Shaun Marcum
Stadium: Miller Park
Video
True Distance: 451 feet

2. Garrett Jones – July 29th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Lucas Harrell
Stadium: Minute Maid Park
Video
True Distance: 455 feet

1. Pedro Alvarez – August 28th, 2012
Opposing Pitcher: Brandon Dickson
Stadium: PNC Park
Video
True Distance: 456 feet

Go Bucs

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Pirates re-sign Morton, non-tender Karstens

The tender/non-tender deadline was Friday at midnight, and the Bucs had decisions to make on several players. They dealt Chris Resop, who was a non-tender candidate, and Yamaico Navarro earlier in the evening.

It surfaced yesterday afternoon that the club was going to non-tender Jeff Karstens. This one was a bit confusing as he’s a pretty reliable pitcher, despite a few injuries. Regardless, the Bucs decided to cut ties with him after five seasons. The longest-tenured player is now Andrew McCutchen, who debuted in June of 2009.

The team also re-signed Charlie Morton to a one year, $2 million deal. Morton, who went 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA before hitting the disabled list, will be out until midseason. He made $2.445 million last season, so he is taking a bit of a pay cut to remain with the team.

Finally, the Pirates tendered contracts to five other players: Neil Walker, James McDonald, Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez.

Bill James 2013 Projections: Pirates Hitters

Bill James’ first batch of projections for the 2013 season were recently released and can be found on the player pages at FanGraphs. Here’s a look at some of the Pirates hitters are projected to perform next year:

G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Alex Presley
96
326 8 43 32 11 .288 .343 .447
Andrew McCutchen
159
675 24 101 81 22 .286 .372 .483
Clint Barmes
133
441 9 42 43 2 .233 .286 .353
Gaby Sanchez
115
394 11 44 49 3 .263 .343 .418
Garrett Jones
140
484 20 57 69 4 .254 .315 .454
Jose Tabata
102
353 3 47 26 12 .278 .345 .377
Michael McKenry
108
363 11 35 41 1 .239 .316 .404
Neil Walker
154
647 17 77 88 9 .275 .337 .435
Pedro Alvarez
147
597 29 70 91 2 .257 .336 .481
Starling Marte
148
551 15 82 64 31 .297 .336 .479
Travis Snider
89
312 11 43 45 5 .278 .345 .468

A few quick notes:

- James has Alex Presley bouncing back with a .288 average after a sophomore slump campaign in which he hit just .237 and traveled to Triple-A Indianapolis a couple of times.

- Andrew McCutchen is projected to regress a bit after his MVP-caliber year. A .286 average with 24 homers would be nice, but not as stellar as his .327 avg/31 homers in 2012.

- Clint Barmes is expected to do pretty much the same thing at the plate as he did last season.

- Gaby Sanchez is pretty “meh” at .263 batting average with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Another player the Bucs picked up at July’s deadline, Travis Snider, is in the same boat – .278 average with 11 HR and 43 RBI.

- James still projects Garrett Jones to put up decent power, but expects a 20 point drop off in batting average (.274 to .254).

- Jose Tabata will look to continue his disappointing career. Another 3 homer year with just 12 stolen bases; at least his average is projected to jump up to .278.

- Michael McKenry is expected to have a pretty similar season. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a larger role in 2013.

- Neil Walker is projected to have a nice season. We’ll take a .275 average and 17 homers any day from a starting second baseman.

- James projects Pedro Alvarez to keep improving upon his solid season in 2012. Another season with about 30 homers and somewhere around 90 RBI would be great from Pedro.

- Last but not least, Starling Marte is expected to have a big time season. A .297 average with 15 home runs and 31 stolen bases would be tremendous for Starling. It’s hard to predict his performance since he’s unproven and appeared in just 47 games, but it still gets us excited to think about the potential he has.

Sometime within the next week or so, we’ll take a look Bill James’ predictions for the Pirates pitchers.

Go Bucs

2012 in Review: Infield

Solid play – both offensively and defensively – led to a dependable core of Bucco infielders.

The top seven infielders in 2012:

Games AVG HR RBI OPS
Garrett Jones 145 .274 27 86 .832
Neil Walker 129 .280 14 69 .768
Clint Barmes 144 .229 8 45 .593
Pedro Alvarez 149 .244 30 85 .784
Josh Harrison 104 .233 3 16 .624
Gaby Sanchez 50 .241 4 13 .720
Jordy Mercer 42 .210 1 5 .639

Other players that saw action in the infield: Matt Hague, Brock Holt, Yamaico Navarro, Jeff Clement, Chase d’Arnaud.

GI Jones definitely put up some strong numbers. His power helped keep the Bucs afloat whenever Cutch struggled, and his defense seemed to get better as he became the every-day first baseman. Neil put up some unreal numbers in June and July, and despite his season-ending injury in September, he still was one of the best second basemen in the league. His development over the past three years has really shown. He combined with Barmes to be a very strong tandem up the middle. Clint, despite some disappointing offensive numbers, was solid at shortstop. Many even thought he should have been up for a Gold Glove. His offensive struggles only seemed to be highlighted when the team struggled, which isn’t really fair to a shortstop who is more known for his defense. At the hot corner, Pedro had some major ups and downs. He displayed his cannon of an arm, but it sometimes resulted in the ball landing 15 rows up in the stands. At the plate, his streakiness really showed. There were times you couldn’t get a fastball by him, and there were times where he looked absolutely lost at the plate. Despite that, he still ended up with 30 bombs and 85 RBIs, and could very well be on his way to 35/100 seasons very soon. Gaby Sanchez was acquired at the trade deadline and showed some promise. He came in as the Pirates plummeted, so his numbers are hard to gauge. Harrison, Mercer, and the rest of the bench weren’t too great. Despite J-Hay’s and Jordy’s versatility, they can’t hit at all. The Pirates’ lack of infield depth really showed when Walker missed significant time in August and September.

MLBTR: Pirates Arbitration Eligibles

MLB Trade Rumors takes a look at the Pirates arbitration eligible players. The article is to-the-point and informative; here it is in full length:

“The Pirates are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  Matt Swartz’s salary projections are below.

Hanrahan remains an asset for the Pirates, though this year’s return to a big-time strikeout rate came with the unwanted side effects of a high walk rate and a lot of flyballs.  On the surface, the Bucs have a guy who’s converted 76 of 84 save opportunities the last two years with a 2.24 ERA and two All-Star game appearances.  Hanrahan will be entering his walk year.  With draft pick compensation for relievers mostly a thing of the past, GM Neal Huntington has to decide whether to trade Hanrahan or extend him in the neighborhood of $10MM per free agent year.

Elsewhere in the bullpen there’s Resop, who added groundballs this year at the expense of strikeouts.  The 29-year-old is hittable yet serviceable, and he’s not terribly expensive.

The Pirates have three arbitration eligible starting pitchers.  McDonald’s ERA sat at 2.37 after a July 7th win; through 110 innings it seemed as if he’d turned a corner.  He was brutal over his next 13 outings, with a 7.52 ERA in 61 frames.  It was an odd season, but McDonald is expected to begin next year back in the Pirates’ rotation.  Now is not the time to consider trading or extending him.

Morton had hip surgery a year ago, but was able to make his season debut in mid-April.  He lasted only nine starts before succumbing to Tommy John surgery.  He has to be considered a non-tender candidate, as otherwise the Pirates would have to pay him a projected $2.6MM in 2012 to pitch at most three months.  Huntington must decide the value of the chance to control Morton for the 2014 season.  The GM was noncommittal on the subject of Karstens, who had an injury-shortened 2012 as well.  Since Karstens finished the season healthy, he might be on firmer ground than Morton.

Jones needs a platoon partner, but he did hit .289/.332/.556 with 25 home runs in 434 plate appearances against right-handed pitching.  I think he’s safe, though this could be the last raise the Pirates are willing to give him.  Walker had another nice year, and the Pirates have flirted with extending the Pittsburgh native before.  In March, I suggested five years and $27MM for the Super Two second baseman.

The Pirates acquired Sanchez from the Marlins at the July trade deadline.  The 29-year-old was better for the Bucs, but still fell well short of the production of a typical starting first baseman.  There’s a decent chance he’s non-tendered.

If only Hanrahan, Jones, Karstens, McDonald, Walker, and Resop are retained, the Pirates would be looking at an estimated $22.3MM for six arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.

For more, visit MLB Trade Rumors.