Stats Corner: Pirates showing center- and opposite-field power
Pitching and defense lifted the Pirates in 2013, but this year's club is left trying to outslug the competition. The Bucs are scoring 4.07 runs per game — sixth-most in the National League — and are channeling the Lumber Company since Gregory Polanco's major league debut on June 10 (4.5 runs per game). The outfield prodigy embodies the Pirates' offensive approach, which emphasizes all-fields slugging over pulling pitches at all costs.
Most major league hitters show far more power when they pull the ball (a collective .591 slugging percentage) than when they connect to center field (.465) or go the opposite way (.427). Not the Pirates, though. While they rank near the bottom in pull-side slugging percentage, they're a top-five offensive when lining a pitch up the middle or to the opposite field.
Hit location SLG MLB rank
Pull .513 29
Center .515 4
Opposite .491 2
Sixty-two percent of the Pirates' hits have gone to center or the opposite field, well above the 58.5 percent MLB average. Their team slugging percentage has climbed 10 points to center field compared to last season (.505), and more than 50 points to the opposite field (.440 in 2013).
Starling Marte is racking up extra-base hits the opposite way, with a .721 slugging percentage that trails just Ryan Howard (1.000), Ryan Braun (.947), Paul Goldschmidt (.810) and Giancarlo Stanton (.765) among NL batters. Andrew McCutchen (.686) and Josh Harrison (.676) are also going “oppo” at an All-Star level.
Russell Martin ranks in the NL's top 10 in slugging to center field (.789), with Pedro Alvarez (.658), McCutchen (.582), Neil Walker (.556) and Harrison (.520) standing out, too. Polanco is clubbing pitches to all fields during his Roy Hobbs-esque debut: He's got twice as many hits to left and center field (12) than to his pull side (six).
— David Golebiewski
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.