Pirates’ offensive problems explain But…..

Using a new Statcast metric to explain the Pirates’ offensive problems

For those who enjoy statistics, Baseball Savant now offers the following new statistic: Bat speed is a characteristic that hitting coaches and scouts have long praised as a valuable skill that Statcast now tracks and makes available to the public. More precisely, the average bat speed of a player is determined by averaging the speed at which the bat’s sweet spot moves across the zone, and this is determined by averaging the player’s top 90% of swings.
Over the weekend, leaderboards were made available to the public, and the Pirates found some good news there. With an average bat speed of 72.8 mph, Pittsburgh ranks second only to the Braves (24-13) in the whole sport. Despite having the second-fastest average bat speed (77.7 mph), Oneil Cruz is not even on the list of 220 qualified hitters.

The average bat speed in the league is 72 mph, and almost all Pirate hitters swing the bat at least that fast (if we round up from 71.5 mph). The following figures represent each Pirate who has made at least 50 competitive swings thus far in 2024:

Name

Bat average (mph)

Batting average (percentile)

Cruz Oneil

77.7

99

raucous Tellez

74.2

85

Joey Bart

73.8

81

Suwinski Jack

73.4

79

McCutchen, Andrew

73.2

76

Michael A. Taylor

72.6

Connor Joe, 70

72.5

68

Bryant Reynolds

71.9

57

Olivares, Edward

71.8

56

Ke’Bryan Hayes

71.7

54

Henry Cooper

71.7

54

Jared Triolo

71.0

44

Alika Williams

69.8

28

That means that all but two batters are hitting at a league-average pace, and five are hitting at a rate that puts them in the top fourth of the league. Despite this, the Pirates’ runs per game rank is 28th out of 30 MLB clubs. What more is happening that these new measurements can account for?
During Andy Haines’ time as hitting coach, the Pirates’ offensive approach and output have come under intense scrutiny; this has been especially true in recent weeks. The team recently went on a 22-game streak in which it scored no more than two runs sixteen times and never more than five. Pirates batters have chosen pitches so poorly that Haines has to directly refute that being a part of

This is where the Pirates’ issues are. The Bucs are “squaring up” the ball (reaching at least 80 percent of the possible exit velocity) on only 23.2 percent of their swings, a rate worse than every MLB club save for the humble Colorado Rockies, while leading baseball in average bat speed. The fact that some of these individuals swing the bat quickly is irrelevant to them:

Name

Batting average (percentile)

swing% (percentile) squared-up

Cruz Oneil

99

39

raucous Tellez

85

49

Suwinski Jack

79

15

McCutchen, Andrew

76

44

Michael A. Taylor

70

7.

Henry Cooper

54

3.
Although it is a wonderful strategy, swinging the bat rapidly is simply one aspect of the game. However, timing and bat path are equally important, and getting proficient in these helps avoid choppers, pop-ups, and other less-than-ideal forms of contact. This appears to be a team-wide problem, along with the hitters’ passivity and pitch choice. And when that’s the case, it’s difficult to think it’s just a coincidence.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *