Statistically speaking: Nationals' Harper flailing at curveballs
The Washington Nationals are a virtual lock to make the playoffs — Fangraphs pegs their odds at 98 percent — and they're running away with the NL East without an anticipated breakout season from Bryce Harper.
The outfielder slugged like a young Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey Jr. through age 20, but he's channeling Pedro (Cerrano or Alvarez, if you prefer) in 2014.
Harper might want to consult Jobu this weekend, considering the Pirates' weekend starters excel at throwing curveballs. No pitch has done more damage to Harper this season.
Harper compiled a .773 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) before tearing ligaments in his left thumb while sliding into third base April 25. Since undergoing surgery and returning to action June 30, Harper has a paltry .678 OPS. His strikeout rate has soared post-surgery from 23.1 percent in April to 31.7 percent from June to August.
The first pick in the 2010 draft has the game's third-worst run value per 100 pitches seen versus the hook (minimum 230 plate appearances), and he ranks last in the NL.
Run value Player vs. curveballs
Kendrys Morales -3.87
Chris Davis -3.07
Bryce Harper -3.05
Chase Headley -2.76
Michael Morse -2.33
Harper doesn't look primed for a big weekend against Charlie Morton and Edinson Volquez. Morton is tossing his curve a quarter of the time and has a +0.67 run value per 100 pitches thrown. Volquez, unleashing his bender 26.4 percent of the time, sports a +0.72 run value per 100 curveballs thrown.
The Nats' hitting prodigy won't get a break in the late innings, either. Pirates closer Mark Melancon goes to his curveball 22.4 percent and boasts a career-best +2.26 run value per 100 thrown. That's sixth highest in the majors and trails just Santiago Casilla and Carlos Torres among qualified NL relievers.
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.
- Starkey: Pirates’ trade of Snider still reeks
- Pirates pitcher Cole climbing list with each consecutive win
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds, May 5, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Lack of clutch hits strands offense
- Pirates suffer 3rd straight walk-off loss in St. Louis in 14 innings
- Sawchik: Should Pirates be concerned about their defense?
- Biertempfel: Despite Wainwright injury, Cardinals still considered favorite in NL Central
- Pirates’ decision to walk bases loaded backfires in 10th
- Pirates’ miscues and mental errors stack up as Cubs win again
- Pitching propels Cubs to strong start
- Pirates’ McCutchen collects 1,000th career hit in victory over Cubs