Looking over some of the stat lines for the Pirates in the early part of the season is not advised. Some of the hitting numbers are just horrible. In fact, almost all of the hitting numbers are horrible. Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee are the only hitters with good numbers, and Michael McKenry if you count the 1.262 OPS he has in six at-bats.
Outside of those three, the numbers are horrible. Breaking down the guys with double digit at-bats:
Neil Walker: .048 average / .139 OPS
Rod Barajas: .059 / .176
Pedro Alvarez: .063 / .313
Garrett Jones: .143 / .357
Clint Barmes: .105 / .413
Jose Tabata: .190 / .418
Alex Presley: .269 / .538
Some of those numbers are so bad that they make Presley’s .538 OPS look amazing. Overall, we’re still in the “small sample size” period of the season. The sample hasn’t been good, but it’s hardly a substantial amount of at-bats to make a sound opinion. Alex Presley leads the team with 26 at-bats. Only three other players have 20+ at-bats.
That’s not stopping people from over-reacting to the early season numbers. Pedro Alvarez should be in Triple-A. Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes should be on the bench. Garrett Jones should be cut. Neil Walker…well, he’s from Pittsburgh, so we’ll ignore the fact that he’s the worst hitter on the team.
This gets said all the time, but if this happened in the middle of June, no one would notice. It’s a week’s worth of stats. It happens all throughout the season. One bad week doesn’t result in changes in June, so it shouldn’t have the same effect now. And really, what solutions are there?
As an example, what would happen if you sent Pedro Alvarez down? Maybe you replace him with Casey McGehee, but who plays first base? The people calling for Alvarez are the same people calling for Jones. And they’re probably ignoring the poor numbers by Matt Hague in the process. You’re still in a situation where one of your starters at the corners is putting up poor numbers. Only now you’ve got Alvarez in Triple-A, where he doesn’t get the chance to learn how to hit major league pitching in the majors.
The reasonable thing to do would be to allow more time for a better sample size to emerge. At this point, suggesting that a player be sent down is about as ridiculous as suggesting that McGehee should be extended due to his .313 average and .875 OPS in 16 at-bats. Maybe we should save the transactions for when we get to the point where we’re not talking about a week’s worth of at-bats.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 3-0 to the Giants. Game story here.
**Prospect Watch: All four affiliates won, and Jameson Taillon had a strong start.
**Pirates Notebook: Presley and Tabata to share the leadoff spot.