Offensive Struggles

One thing is for sure: the Pirates lack hitting. Everyone knows that. Even early last season when the Bucs were winning, there was a huge lack of offensive production. The pitching was keeping them in those games, and the same is happening this year. It’s just so frustrating to see such horrible hitting when the pitching has been consistent to start the season.

Poor hitting aside, there’s one stat that throws the team under the bus as a whole: the Bucs are just 21-49 in the last 70 games, dating back to last year. To sum it up in one word: horrible. Absolutely horrible. A record of 21-49 translates to a winning percentage of .300. If the Pirates were to keep this pace for a 162 game season, that would produce about 48 or 49 wins.

The Pirates really went into a downward spiral after the All-Star Break last season, with the exception of a few weeks in late July. Here’s a look at the top five Pirates hitters (based on batting average) after the All-Star break last season:

1. Eric Fryer: 6 for 16, .375 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI
2. Pedro Ciriaco: 10 for 27, .370 AVG, 0 HR, 6 RBI
3. Derrek Lee: 34 for 101, 7 HR, 18 RBI, .337 AVG
4. Ryan Doumit: 41 for 125, 4 HR, 15 RBI, .328 AVG
5. Jason Jaramillo: 9 for 29, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .310 AVG

Although Fryer, Ciriaco, and Jaramillo had small sample sizes, it’s still shocking to see none of the five players still in the organization. Obviously, Lee and Doumit stand out the most. Both had really good second halves last year, and were pretty much the only guys to do so. Lee didn’t want to come back, and some didn’t want him because of his age. Still, those stats really jump out at you. As for Doumit, he was a player who spent his entire career with the Bucs, was injury-prone, and not a fan-favorite (largely due to his defensive struggles). After he returned from the DL last year, he didn’t do too bad, but not many noticed since everyone fell off the bandwagon. We aren’t suggesting that Fryerbot, Pedro “Frequent Flyer Miles” Ciriaco, or JJ should be on the team, but there are some arguments for Doumit and/or Lee.

Lee could’ve potentially been a nice piece, especially the way Jones has started (3 for 15, 5 K). McGehee has done really well so far, but he could’ve taken over 3B, at least vs. LHP. The coaching staff is doing its best to keep Pedro away from lefties, which is probably for the best. If Lee wanted to come back, he could’ve. But then again, maybe retiring is a better decision than being on this team right now.

As for Doumit, it’s getting to the point where you would rather have his offense than Barajas’ defense. Barajas is now batting .050 and has never had a decent OBP in his career. At least Doumit was an offensive threat, and you’d much rather have Doumit batting 5th than Barajas. We’d rather see this than Barajas hitting 1 for 20:

Simply put, the offense needs to be better. But it’s definitely easier said than done for this offensively-challenged lineup. How bad have Jose Tabata and Neil Walker been this season? Here’s a closer look at their stats from this season, as well as after the All-Star Break last year:

Walker went 2 for 4 on Saturday night in San Francisco. The problem? He had only one hit total the entire season so far. After the break last year, he hit .285 which was better than he hit prior to the break. Neil’s a pretty streaky hitter, so that isn’t too surprising. Hopefully the same can be said about his start to this season. He’s hitting just .120 and desperately needs to find his stroke if he wants to produce in the middle of the lineup. However, the guys in front of him need to get on for Walker to drive in some runs.

Tabata had another 0 for 4 night on Saturday and still hasn’t shown any power. He hit .273 after the break last year, which was actually better than before the break, just like Walker. Tabata’s biggest problem in his career so far has been his lack of power. As a corner OF, you need to display some power. The same can be said of Presley, although he hasn’t looked as bad. Tabata is currently at .160 for the year and needs to snap out of it as soon as possible.

Another player who needs to pick it up is Clint Barmes. He was brought in for 2 years/$10.5 million, and the fans are already losing patience. Not only did he make a bad throw to lose the game on Saturday, but he also went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and two left on base. His average is down to .083 and some fans would rather have Cedeno right now.

No matter who it is, someone in the lineup needs to get started. Maybe if someone can get some hitting going, the rest will follow. The pitching staff is keeping them in games as long as they can. It is astonishing that a team with an ERA of 2.78 has just two wins. For once, it seems that the pitching is not the problem. In past years, it always seemed that the Pirates lacked too much pitching to be able to compete. Now it seems like a complete role reversal. It seems like a good enough staff to rack up some wins. If/when the hitting comes around, there is a lot of potential to win some ballgames.

Go Bucs

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