Again this week, the Pirates offense struggled to score runs. Many fans and members of the media are coming to the conclusion that this is more than an early season slump. If they are right, the Pirates offense is not only bad, it could be historically awful.
After listening to sports talk radio last night, and reading Dejan Kovacevic’s article in the Tribune-Review this morning, it is clear that Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington is going to be placed firmly on the hot seat by the Pittsburgh media in the coming days. The question is, how much of the mess is his responsibily?
On the one hand, the answer is obvious – “all of it”. He constructed the roster; its performance, one way or the other, is his responsibility.
On the other, a baseball general manager constructs a roster based on expectations. Clearly, Neal Huntington (and every other person in-and-out of baseball) thought this offense would produce more than it has. The players and coaches also bear some responsibility for performing below even the most cautious of projections.
The question really isn’t whether Neal Huntington had higher expectations or not. Rather, it is how much higher were his expectations? We can answer that.
Every baseball general manager uses some type of projection system to estimate future performance. One of the most popular is ZiPS (Szymborski Projection System). It is highly likely that Neal Huntington looked at projections very similar to these when he was constructing the 2012 roster.
I went to Fangaphs.com, and downloaded the ZiPS projections for OPS and wOBA (Szymborski Projection System) for each position player. I then did the same for the actual OPS/wOBA. (Please read this for an explanation of ZiPS.)
Here are the numbers:
It is far too late (early in the morning) for much analysis right now. I’ll let the numbers speak from themselves. However, I do want to point out that besides the obvious lack of production from Barmes, McGehee, McLouth and Tabata, a huge story is Alex Presley. Last season he had a .804 OPS, .350 wOBA, 122 wRC and 1.2 WAR. When he was hitting, he sparked the Pirates offense. His decline and return to the minors hurts this club more than has been acknowledged.
This study is continued and includes projected runs scored here.
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