Statistically Speaking: Pirates could run wild on Cubs
The Pirates look to gain ground in the NL Central standings against the Cubs, who are creeping closer to the fourth-place Bucs and sport the better run differential (-9 compared to -18 for the Pirates). The Pirates could separate themselves by targeting one of Chicago's well-known weaknesses: holding opposing base runners.
Teams are challenging Cubs backstops often, attempting to steal a base in 6.9 percent of all possible chances. That's sixth highest in the majors, behind only the Pirates, Giants, Tigers, Padres and Marlins. While the Bucs have managed to gun out runners at a clip (23 percent) that's close to the big league average (26 percent), the North Siders have been almost defenseless against would-be base thieves.
Chicago's backstops have thrown out an MLB-low 9 percent of potential base stealers, with John Baker (4 percent) holding the worst caught stealing rate among catchers logging 200-plus innings.
Baker has been getting regular playing time in place of the injured Welington Castillo, who has the fifth-worst caught stealing rate (14 percent). Triple-A fill-in Eli Whiteside is 0 for 4 throwing out runners.
The Cubs' stolen base follies have cost them an MLB-worst five runs compared to an average team, according to Fangraphs.
Team Stolen Base Runs
Blue Jays -2
Catchers don't bear sole responsibility for stolen bases, however. Friday's starter Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel (Sunday) have career caught-stealing rates around 20 percent while playing for multiple clubs, suggesting they could be quicker to the plate or pay closer attention to runners.
The Pirates haven't been particularly aggressive on the bases so far, attempting a steal in a league-average 5.6 percent of possible chances, but their “dream outfield” should get the green light against Jackson and Hammel. Andrew McCutchen is 9 for 9 in steals, and Starling Marte (77 percent success rate) and Gregory Polanco (75 percent at Triple-A) also are putting their sprinter's speed to good use.
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
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.
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Pirates notebook: Fastball command issues hurt Cole against Cubs
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Pirates notebook: Tempers boil after Arrieta beaned
- Pirates no match for Cubs, Arrieta in wild-card loss
- Managers opt for different strategies in wild-card contest
- Cubs’ Arrieta, Pirates’ Cole leave batters with little margin for error
- Cubs’ Fowler, Schwarber deliver to sink Pirates
- Pirates, Cubs get hit by pitches more frequently than other NL teams
- Pirates will play NL wild-card game at PNC Park after shutting out Reds