Aramis Ramirez: “I think I’m doing what they brought me here for, and that’s driving in runs.’’
Nobody in baseball drives home a higher percentage of baserunners than Andrew McCutchen, which is not all that surprising.
When a guy hits .390 with runners in scoring position, .405 with runners in scoring position and two outs, .337 with runners on base, and throws in eight sacrifice flies, he’s going to drive home plenty of teammates. McCutchen has brought home 65 of the 311 runners who have been on base when he’s batted, a percentage of 20.9 that tops MLB.
But you’d never guess which four of his teammates are next best at driving in runners.
Here’s the list from Baseball Prospectus, with the categories below being plate appearances; plate appearances with runners on base; total runners on base; others batted in; and the percentage of others batted in. Stats are through Saturday’s games.
• After his first-inning, three-run homer Saturday night, Ramirez said, “I think I’m doing what they brought me here for, and that’s driving in runs.’’
Indeed. He was immediately slotted cleanup for that reason. The Pirates have given Ramirez plenty of opportunities, putting at least one duck on the pond in more than half his plate appearances, and Ramirez has delivered the goods.
• Alvarez has driven in his runners the hard way. All but three of his 21 home runs have been solo shots, those three being two-run homers. Yet Alvarez is the top Pirate in this group at scoring runners from third base, 26 of 52. That’s 50%, kids, and in baseball, half is very good.
• The much maligned Hart, who figures to return this month, saw an unusual number of baserunners, largely because 24 of his 57 plate appearances were as a pinch hitter. He was good in that role, hitting .318/.333/.455/.788 with a home run and 7 RBI, so that accounted six of his seven OBI.
• Liriano is hitting only .115 but has managed to drive home six of the 37 batters he’s found on base, and three of the 18 he’s found on first base. That 16.7% from first base is the highest percentage on the team. Somebody should call Ripley.
The next best Pirates in Others Batted In Percentage, with 14.7% being the middling number among major league regulars, are just below that: Jung Ho Kang (14.3) Starling Marte (14.2), Neil Walker (14.1), Gregory Polanco (13.7), Chris Stewart (13.5), and Travis Ishikawa (13.5). We’re looking only at players with at least 50 plate appearances.
That brings us to the bottom-feeders. These have been the five Pirates least likely to drive in a runner.
The first two names surprise me a little, the next two don’t. Rodriguez has knocked only one of the 41 runners he’s found on second base.
As for Cole, 21 of his 37 runners were on first base, so he’d often be asked to bunt. If Cole continues to pitch the way he has, Pirates fans shouldn’t care much if he ever drives a runner home anyway.
Some of this is small-sample-size theater. Harrison was second among Pirates regulars to Russell Martin last season in OBI (16.9 to 18.1). Nothing about what’s happened so far this season is necessarily predictive of what comes next. But if you’ve ever found yourself saying, ”Boy, we need a hit here,’’ these charts should give you a pretty good idea of the guys who have and haven’t been answering your prayers.
INDIANAPOLIS (79-57) beat Toledo, 6-5. RHP Brad Lincoln (4.27) allowed 3 runs and 4 hits in 2 innings. RHP Frank Herrmann (1-1, 2.25) was the winner. RF Willy Garcia (.255) went 2 for 5 with a 3-run homer and 5 RBIs. 1B Josh Bell (.347) went 2 for 4 and scored 2 runs.
ALTOONA (71-63) beat Trenton, 2-0. LHP Steven Brault (8-3, 2.20) was the winner, giving up 3 hits in 7 scoreless innings. Brault struck out 2 and did not walk a batter. SS Adam Frazier (.331) and 3B Max Moroff (.299) had 2 hits apiece.
BRADENTON (69-63) beat Palm Beach, 5-3. LHP Cody Dickson (12-6, 4.01) was the winner, allowing 3 runs and 4 hits in 5 2/3 innings. CF Austin Meadows (.305) and DH Jordan Steranka (.241) each had 2 RBIs.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (81-50) beat Lexington, 5-1. LHP Austin Coley (3.77) gave up 1 run and 3 hits in 7 innings. LHP Jared Lakind (2-0, 1.45) was the winner. 2B Kevin Kramer (.238) and C Francisco Diaz (.351) both went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (36-32) lost to Batavia, 8-5. LHP Brandon Waddell (0-1, 7.04) was the loser, allowing 7 runs (6 earned) and 10 hits in 4 innings. 1B Carlos Munoz (.333) and C Daniel Arribas (.270) homered.
GCL PIRATES (28-31) did not play.
BRISTOL (29-33) beat Elizabethton, 7-6, in the first game of a doubleheader. Second game, late. RHP Billy Roth (3.98) gave up 1 run and 4 hits in 5 innings. LHP Mervin Del Rosario (2-1, 5.06) was the winner. C John Bormann (.235) went 3 for 5 with an RBI. DH Erik Lunde (.305) went 2 for 4 with a home run.
General manager Neal Huntington made it very clear Sunday afternoon that the Pirates do not intend to call up top prospect Tyler Glasnow, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, this season. Glasnow, 22, has a 0.81 ERA in six starts for Class AAA Indianapolis.
A fifth-round pick in 2011, Glasnow went 5-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 12 starts for Class AA Altoona before being promoted in late July.
"Couldn't be more excited about Tyler Glasnow, his growth and his development from the beginning of this year and his time with the Pirates,“ Huntington said. ”We are completely looking forward to what he can be at the major league level. Performance and success in AAA does not always translate to the big leagues. He's got weapons. The consistency and the ability to utilize those weapons, the ability to come up and get major league hitters out versus AAA hitters out — completely different spectrum.
“Have left the door open, just because he's doing some really good things, but he continues to remind us there are still some really good things he needs to do. At this point, he's not on our radar to come up here in September or October, because we still feel there's some development left to go. We've tried to leave the window open to keep progressing, but he is not in our plans as we sit here right now. Excited about what he will become. Can't wait to see him on a big league mound in Pittsburgh or wherever he ends up as he's pitching for us and against someone else, but not a guy we're planning on as we sit here today."
The Pirates rotation has been very strong the past few weeks, and right-hander A.J. Burnett is expected to return in mid-September, giving the Pirates six starters for five spots. Is all that weighed when making this decision to not rush Glasnow to the majors?
"As we've tried to say since Day 1 being here, our goal is to bring a prospect to the big leagues when we feel he's ready to come up here and compete,” Huntington said. “In the environment that we'd ask somebody to come up in September, it's about winning every single game and putting ourselves in a position to win as many of these final 34 games as we can to close this three-game loss-column deficit to win the division.
”It's a lot to ask a young player to come up and help you win a game in April, let alone to come up and help you win a playoff-caliber game in September. Our goal is to put our guys in positions to be successful. Our goal is to bring up young players when they're ready to help us win. When we get to that point with Tyler, we'll absolutely look to bring him up. We just don't necessarily see that happening this September or October."
RHP Charlie Morton (Getty)
Game: Pirates (79-49) vs. Rockies (51-76)
Time: 1:05 p.m.
Site: PNC Park
TV, radio: ROOT Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7
Weather: 82 and hazy
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. DJ LeMahieu 2B
3. Carlos Gonzalez RF
4. Nolan Arenado 3B
5. Ben Paulsen 1B
6. Kyle Parker LF
7. Daniel Descalso SS
8. Dustin Garneau C
9. Jorge De La Rosa LHP
1. Gregory Polanco RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Francisco Cervelli C
6. Michael Morse 1B
7. Josh Harrison 2B
8. Jordy Mercer SS
9. Charlie Morton RHP
Manager Clint Hurdle (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)
It’s Aug. 30 now, which means we are creeping steadily closer to September call-ups across the big leagues. Count Pirates manager Clint Hurdle among those who aren’t too keen expanding rosters late in the season. Which isn’t to say Hurdle hasn’t taken advantage of it in the past, it’s just that he recognizes the absurdity of it after all these years as a manager.
"Never liked the rule,“ Hurdle said Saturday. ”Have absolutely abused it at times, to good use. Won a game in Colorado — that 13 of 14 [wins] down the stretch — and used 10 or 11 pitchers in one game. Crazy. Horrible. I don't get it. It's the way it's always been. You've heard me say that tradition is a wonderful thing, but it also can be a vision killer. Five months? Here's your rules, go play. Last month? Here, do it this way. Do whatever you want. It's like free play!"
Consider the Pirates’ 4-3 win Saturday night. They emptied the bench again to get a couple reserves — Starling Marte, Michael Morse, Sean Rodriguez and Jordy Mercer — in the action. They used four pitchers. Are the Pirates really better off if they have even more options off the bench or out of the bullpen?
“You get to the point where you're never going to win a leverage,” Hurdle continued. “... There were times when we didn't have players to call up, and other teams would have players, on top of having a good team. You just keep getting pumped. You never win a leverage situation. You can't win a leverage situation. Your guys are in bad matchups throughout the end of the game. I've told you. I've seen it.
”Bring in a pitching change, OK, there's the pinch hitter, he gets on, there's the pinch-runner, he scores, another guy goes out to play defense. Uncle! That was it for me. That's when I checked out. That was like in the year 2003 or something. It happened, and we lost by one run. That was the run. I'm done! It makes no sense! You can't win!
“Neal [Huntington] and I have talked about a taxi squad, you ramp the number down. Everybody is going to kick their other four starters to the curb, but you go with 30 maybe. But you pick a number that's operable and still it's a little different of a game, but it's not the game it is right now."
There certainly are a couple names Pirates fans would like to see brought into the mix in September — say, Tyler Glasnow or Alen Hanson — but how many players does Hurdle envision adding into the equation?
"Ummm, I know how many are going to be here,” Hurdle said, cautiously. “I'll wait until those guys get told.” He smiled, and added. “I guarantee you every guy we're going to ask to show up on the first will show up."