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
True Distance: 448 feet

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

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

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

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

Go Bucs

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:

Alex Presley
326 8 43 32 11 .288 .343 .447
Andrew McCutchen
675 24 101 81 22 .286 .372 .483
Clint Barmes
441 9 42 43 2 .233 .286 .353
Gaby Sanchez
394 11 44 49 3 .263 .343 .418
Garrett Jones
484 20 57 69 4 .254 .315 .454
Jose Tabata
353 3 47 26 12 .278 .345 .377
Michael McKenry
363 11 35 41 1 .239 .316 .404
Neil Walker
647 17 77 88 9 .275 .337 .435
Pedro Alvarez
597 29 70 91 2 .257 .336 .481
Starling Marte
551 15 82 64 31 .297 .336 .479
Travis Snider
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:

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: July 2012

July 3rd, 2012
Drew Sutton is pied in the face by A.J. Burnett after his walk-off home run lifted the Bucs over the Astros, 8-7.

July 9th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen connects on one of his two home runs; he went 3 for 5 with four RBI and three runs scored. Cutch and the Pirates finished the first half with a bang, as they crushed the Giants by a score of 13-2.

July 9th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen participates in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby in Kansas City.

July 16th, 2012
Pedro Alvarez is congratulated by his teammates after he tied the game with a three-run home run. The bomb came on the first pitch after a 58 minute rain delay. However, the Rockies beat the Pirates, 5-4, on a sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler.

July 26th, 2012
Starling Marte rounds the bases after hitting a home run on the very first pitch of his Major League career.

July 31st, 2012
A.J. Burnett and Rod Barajas embrace after Burnett’s one-hit, complete game shutout of the Chicago Cubs. A.J. lost his no-hit bid to Adrian Cardenas with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The Bucs beat the Cubs, 5-0.

Five Promotions We Want at PNC Park in 2013

We’ve collected numerous pieces of Pirates memorabilia over the years. Many of these souvenirs have been promotions handed out at the gates of the ballpark. While it’s not a major factor in choosing which games to attend, it is still nice to receive a “gift” from the game.

With our 20-game plan this year, most promotions were fireworks. There weren’t really any true giveaways besides a few free shirts, a hat, and the Joel Hanrahan bobblehead. Despite being a fan-favorite, the Pirates have drastically decreased the amount of bobblehead giveaways over the years. Free Shirt Fridays are solid, but essentially the only item given to fans on a consistent basis. In our opinion, the promotional schedule has been pretty bland as of late. Therefore, here are five promotions we want to see at PNC next season.

1. A.J. Burnett Replica Tattoo Arm Sleeve

Everyone has seen A.J.’s sick tattoos – why not make a sleeve out of them? We think this would make for a cool giveaway.

2. Andrew McCutchen Replica Dreadlocks

Andrew McCutchen is probably one of the most recognizable Pirates – not only due to his playing ability, but also because of his dreadlocks. The Altoona Curve, double-A affiliate of the Bucs, held a promotion this past season that contained fake dreads attached to a cap:

This has the potential to be a popular collectible, especially for kids.

3. Jeff Karstens Derp Mask

If you’ve been on social media networks over the past year, you’ve probably seen various pictures of Jeff Karstens making ridiculous faces. While a bit far-fetched, a Karstens mask would be quite hilarious.

4. Pedro Alvarez “El Toro” Bobblehead

As we said, bobbleheads have recently been lacking. The classic bobbleheads are nice items for collectors, but why not switch it up a bit? Incorporate Pedro Alvarez’s nickname, El Toro (meaning “the bull” in Spanish), and put a bull head on top.

5. Kyle Stark “Hoka Hey” Action Figure

Kyle Stark, the assistant GM who enforces special training methods, deserves his own promotion. Rather than critiquing baseball skills, minor leaguers train like Navy SEALS. Therefore, we think it’s fitting for Stark to have an action figure, just like G.I. Joe.

Promotions aren’t as necessary to attract fans to PNC as they were a few seasons ago, when the Bucs were far more abysmal. However, it’s still cool to receive such items upon entering the stadium. Free shirts are legit, but what else is there? The giveaways have been pretty dull.

We’re just having some fun with these five ideas, and the chances of them happening are <0.1%. Regardless, we think the Pirates should step it up and offer some unique promotions next season.

Let us know if you have any promotional ideas of your own.