ShareThis Page

Pirates, Cardinals struggling against fastballs

| Friday, May 9, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Runs will be at a premium at PNC Park this weekend as the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals bring anemic offensive attacks into the latest chapter of their National League Central rivalry.

Thanks to a lack of lumber, both clubs have fallen well behind the Milwaukee Brewers and must play catch-up to return to the playoffs thanks to a lack of lumber.

The Pirates rank 10th in the NL in on-base plus slugging percentage (.682), while the Cardinals have fared even worse (.670 OPS, 12th in the NL).

Pirates and Cardinals hitters crushed fastballs last season. The Pirates were the NL's best team when pitchers brought the heat, adding +0.39 runs of value per 100 fastballs seen compared to the league average. St. Louis also did considerable damage, placing third in the NL at +0.27 runs above average.

They're both getting manhandled by fastballs in 2014, however, ranking in the bottom third among NL clubs.

Can't catch up

Lowest run values vs. fastballs in NL:

Team Runs/100 fastballs

Padres -1.22

Cardinals -0.59

Diamondbacks -0.58

Dodgers -0.43

Pirates -0.42


No player has scuffled more against fastballs than Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, who handled heat just fine while winning an everyday job in 2013 (+0.42 runs). Right fielders Allen Craig (+2.22 runs in 2013) and Jose Tabata (+1.3 runs) clobbered fastballs last season, but they have fans clamoring for prized prospects Oscar Taveras and Gregory Polanco in 2014.

Players Runs/100 fastballs

Jordy Mercer -4.46

Allen Craig -1.96

Jose Tabata -1.59

Peter Bourjos -1.41

Jon Jay -1.15

To make matters worse for the Pirates, scheduled Cardinals starters Michael Wacha (+0.08 runs per 100 fastballs thrown), Shelby Miller (+0.18) and Lance Lynn (+0.44) boast above-average fastballs. St. Louis hitters will have to contend with Edinson Volquez's gas (+0.96), but they could break through against Francisco Liriano (-1.66) and Charlie Morton (-1.23).

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.