2012 in Review: Infield

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

The top seven infielders in 2012:

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.


Season in Pictures: September 2012

September 7th, 2012
Josh Harrison commits one of the Pirates’ seven errors, as the Cubs cruised to a 12-2 victory.

September 10th, 2012
Brandon Phillips is plunked by Jared Hughes; nonsense ensued, as Phillips thought Hughes made a racist comment towards him. The Bucs were swept by the Redlegs.

September 27th, 2012
Travis Snider scales the outfield wall to make a ridiculous catch at Citi Field. However, the Pirates lost, 6-5, as R.A. Dickey won his 20th game.

September 28th, 2012
Homer Bailey celebrates after no-hitting the Pirates at PNC Park.

September 29th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen is greeted by his teammates at home plate after knocking a walk-off home run against the Reds.

October 3rd, 2012
Andrew McCutchen leaves the field for the final time in 2012 to a standing ovation in front of 20,000+ at PNC Park.

Season in Pictures: August 2012

August 3rd, 2012
Andrew McCutchen barks in the dugout after being hit by Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning. Chapman’s offering was clocked at 101 mph. The Bucs lost 3-0.

August 10th, 2012
James McDonald sits quietly in the dugout after blowing a 7-0 lead to the Padres. San Diego went on to win, 10-9.

August 15th, 2012
Neil Walker rolls around in pain after injuring his hand on a double play attempt. The Pirates dropped their third consecutive game, 9-3.

August 16th, 2012
A young boy’s ears are covered from the harsh words of Matt Kemp, who was ejected in the second inning of a Thursday matinee. The Buccos won, 10-6, and A.J. Burnett told Hanley Ramirez what to do.

August 19th, 2012
Keli Alvarez celebrates her husband’s solo home run that gave the Bucs a 19-inning win in St. Louis.

August 28th, 2012
Josh Harrison barrels Yadier Molina in a huge collision at home plate. J-Hay was out on the play, but the Pirates went on to crush the Cards, 9-0.

Season in Pictures: May 2012

May 2nd, 2012
A.J. Burnett walks off the mound after allowing 12 runs in just 2.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Bucs got rocked, 12-3, at Busch Stadium.

May 8th, 2012
Rod Barajas flashes the Zoltan after hitting a walk-off homer to lift the Pirates over the Nationals, 5-4.

May 19th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison celebrate one of Cutch’s two bombs in Detroit. The Pirates beat the Tigers in a Saturday matinée by the score of 4-3.

May 21st, 2012
Neil Walker slides home safely as the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to give the Pirates a 5-4 victory.

May 26th, 2012
Matt Hague‘s walk-off hit-by-pitch lifts the Bucs over the Cubs, 3-2, in front of a Saturday night sellout crowd.

May 28th, 2012
Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata celebrate after beating the Reds on Memorial Day. It was the Pirates fourth consecutive win and put them at the .500 mark.

Hurdle, Bucs “Committed” to Stealing Bases

In Tuesday night’s 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins, the Pirates stole three bases, including a double steal in the fifth inning that involved Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. When asked about the steals after the game, manager Clint Hurdle said, “I’m committed to it. We’ve got to be aggressive.” The Bucs have certainly been aggressive on the basepaths this month; they’ve stolen more this month than any other this season.

Without any true power hitters, the Bucs knew they’d have to utilize their speed this season to generate offense. In the opening month of April, the Pirates stole 13 bases in 22 games, while being caught stealing 10 times (56.5% success rate). They scored just 58 runs that month (about 2.64 per game).

The Pirates were 12 for 18 (66.7% success rate) in stolen bases in May; more success but less attempts. In 28 May games they scored 89 runs, which equates to 3.18 per game. However, they hit more home runs that month (25 in May vs. 13 in April), so that largely contributes to the greater amount of runs scored.

This month, the Bucs have really increased their running game. In 16 games, they’ve stolen 20 bases while being thrown out seven times (74.1% success rate). The Pirates have already surpassed their April and May stolen base totals despite only playing for a little over half the month. They have stolen at least one base in 10 of the 16 games. In the 10 games they have stolen a base, the Bucs have averaged 5.6 runs per game. In the six games they have not stolen a base, the Bucs have averaged 4.33 runs per game. Here are the Pirates stolen base leaders:
1. Andrew McCutchen, 14
2. Jose Tabata, 8
3. Neil Walker, 7
4. Alex Presley, 6
5. Josh Harrison, 5

The Buccos rank 16th in Major League Baseball with a total of 45 steals on the year, but should climb up the leaderboard if they continue to be aggressive. With the speed at the top of the lineup, it’s necessary to swipe some bags. Stolen bases put a lot of pressure on the defense and can create instant offense. They’ve scored more runs this month, which is a positive sign going forward. Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes have both pulled their averages over .200 the past few days, and Casey McGehee has hit well in his last couple games. If those guys can heat up and the top of the order players continue to get on base and steal, there are plenty of opportunities to score runs and support the pitchers.