Share This Page

Stats corner: Pirates' pitchers having historic season with grounders, no HRs

| Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 11:48 p.m.

Pirates pitchers have adopted a scorched earth policy this season, generating ground balls a major league-high 52.8 percent of the time that hitters put the ball in play. Charlie Morton (65 percent ground ball rate) garners headlines as the game's pre-eminent worm-burner, but fellow starters A.J. Burnett (56.3 percent), Jeff Locke (53.3), Francisco Liriano (51.4) and Gerrit Cole (50) all have induced ground balls far more frequently than the 44.5 percent MLB average. In the bullpen, Mark Melancon (60.5), Bryan Morris (58.4), Jeanmar Gomez (57.3), Justin Wilson (52.4) and Vin Mazzaro (52.2) keep infielders busy.

In fact, the 2013 Pirates are the most ground ball-centric staff in more than a decade. They have the highest single-season team ground ball rate in the majors dating to 2002, the first year for which Fangraphs.com has detailed batted ball data.

Ground and pound

The Pirates have MLB's best ground-ball rate in past 11 years.

Team Year GB Pct.

Pirates 2013 52.8

Cardinals 2005 50.7

Braves 2010 49.9

Cardinals 2009 49.8

Dodgers 2008 49.6

Source: Fangraphs.com

By waging a ground assault, the Pirates have surrendered the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.63) among MLB clubs this season. They also are preventing homers like few other pitching staffs in franchise history.

Since the live ball era began in 1920, only a handful Pirates clubs have prevented home runs at a better clip relative to the National League average. This year's staff ranks fifth during the live ball era in HR+, which compares a team's home runs allowed to the NL average that season and puts it on a scale where 100 is average. The 2013 Pirates have allowed 30 percent fewer home runs than the NL average, the franchise's best showing since in nearly half a century:

No long ball

This year's staff ranks among the best in Pirates history at preventing HRs compared to NL average (since 1920).

Year Pirates HR/9 NL HR/9 HR+

1921 0.24 0.4 60

1946 0.33 0.5 66

1965 0.54 0.8 68

1924 0.27 0.4 68

2013 0.63 0.9 70

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.