baseball, Pirates, Pittsburgh Pirates, Sports

Early Season Overreacting

Fans always overreact to early season results.  Whether good or bad.  It’s what we do.  Reading the message boards and comment sections is always entertaining in an eye-rolling sort of way.  After Tyler Glasnow’s embarrassing season debut where he seemed incapable or even fearful of throwing strikes the fans are ranging in comments saying Glasnow should be back in AAA to others saying the Bucs should’ve traded Glasnow two years ago to “win it all” (as if trading prospects somehow “guarantees” a championship.)

There were a number of jeers directed at Glasnow and his performance.  I’m hoping many of the boos at PNC were directed at the walks and not directly at Glasnow.  Though I did see a number of supportive claps as he exited the field.  Not all fans are heartless.

Yes, the kid was awful yesterday.  It was mildly depressing and a bit demoralizing.  Yet, it was just one game.  A lot of his ball-fours weren’t far from the strike zone.  Remember Randy Johnson who was 6’10”?  Of course you do.  But you probably don’t recall his first four seasons.  His first full season occurred when he was 25.  In his first four seasons his BB/9 IP were 5.4, 4.9, 6.8 and 6.2 respectively. Then he seemed to harness it all and we all know how it went from there.





The comment sections are also loaded with criticisms against Clint Hurdle for refusing to pinch hit twice with the bases loaded in the early innings.  We’ve already overused the bullpen as usual in the early part of the season.  Hurdle made the right call attempting to get as many innings as he could out of as few pitchers as possible.  Felipe Rivero pitched in all five of the Bucs’ first five games.  Daniel Hudson pitched in four of them.  That is just too much use for perhaps the two most important arms in the pen.  Juan Nicasio probably needs to be used more in multiple-inning appearances.  Wade LeBlanc’s 5+ innings were desperately needed.  I’m thinking (hoping) Antonio Bastardo has found his new role as well – mop-up duty.

It amazes me how so many people seem to have turned against Andrew McCutchen.  One subpar season and six games result in some treating Cutch as a bum.  You read comments like “Cutch is not Clutch.”  Here’s some perspective:

McCutchen batted .268 from the 3-hole last year with an OBP .349 and .799 OPS. He also batted .290 with RISP last year along with an OBP of .426 and a .836 OPS. Those were all well below his 2015 season and need to improve, but the AVG and OBP are comparable to his career stats of .302 and .423 respectively.  Cutch’s HRs have been very consistent from season to season.

  • 2013 HRs = 21
  • 2014 HRs = 25
  • 2015 HRs = 23
  • 2016 HRs = 24

You simply can’t get much more consistent than that.  The problem was the drop-off in doubles.  After averaging 37 doubles per year 2013 – 2015 Cutch dropped down to only 26 doubles in 2016.  This isn’t due to Cutch’s reduction in foot speed or a reduction in power.  It is due to how team’s are defending him.  Fangraphs does a wonderful job explaining it:

They ran 149 traditional shifts, during which he was only 74% as good as the league average according to weighted runs creatd. He had never been shifted more than 74 times in a season prior to 2016.

We all know that McCutchen is one of the best hitters in baseball.  Andrew is a pull-heavy hitter that the league has adjusted to in the new shift-oriented defenses.  He’ll need to make the adjustment to how teams are defending him.  Andrew is a formal MVP who is only 30 years old.  I’m guessing he can make the necessary adjustments to be an above average hitter.



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