Pirates Offseason Notes 11/16/15

20 weeks until Opening Day…

Recent Stuff on the Blog

— Last week’s Offseason Notes
MLB Win Curve in the Expanded Wild Card Era
— Visualizing the Range of the Pirates’ Outfield in 2015
— Pages: Depth Chart / Payroll / Spray Charts / PITCHf/x

Rumor Mill

— Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had some rumors on the Pirates’ front last week, first mentioning that, unsurprisingly, Mark Melancon is being shopped. Heyman specifically says the Bucs’ closer is “out there for the taking.” The Pirates will look for value in return for their top reliever who enters his final year of team control and will command a salary upwards of $10 million through arbitration this winter. It wouldn’t be dissimilar (in terms of timing, payroll allocation, etc.) from the trade that brought Melancon to Pittsburgh and sent then-closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston.

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Visualizing the Range of the Pirates’ Outfield in 2015

One of my favorite posts last year was my first attempt at visualizing the range of the Pirates’ outfield. Thus, I wanted to take another crack at it for 2015.

Using the data that is fed into MLB Gameday (and easily made available through Jeff Zimmerman’s BaseballHeatMaps.com), we can easily grab some (x,y) batted ball coordinates. These locations are by no means perfect, and not as precise as what is produced by Baseball Info Solutions or made available to teams in the form of HITf/x or Statcast, but they’re good enough for our simple use.

It’s also a bit difficult to find exact play types or events, but with the at-bat descriptions, we can extract data points for phrases like “[batter] flies out to left fielder Starling Marte” or “lines out to center fielder Andrew McCutchen” or “out on a sacrifice fly to right fielder Gregory Polanco.” It’s even tougher to pinpoint every ball they didn’t snag within reach, so for now, we’ll only focus on balls that were converted into outs.

First up: Starling Marte, winner of the Fielding Bible, Gold Glove, and Wilson Defensive Player of the Year awards in left field.

Starling Marte Range

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Pirates Offseason Notes 11/2/15

Each Monday, we’ll provide a round-up of the Bucs’ offseason happenings. 22 weeks until Opening Day…

Roster/Personnel Moves

In case you missed it…

— The Pirates claimed right-handed reliever Jorge Rondon off waivers from the Orioles last week [press release]. Rondon, 27, has little MLB experience (1 inning with St. Louis in 2014; 14.1 innings with Baltimore in 2015). He’s been stuck in AAA since 2012, where he’s posted respectable numbers:

Jorge Rondon AAA Stats

Walks have been an issue for Rondon in the past, but he throws hard and gets ground balls. It appears he has no options remaining. With at least three openings in the bullpen, the Pirates will likely find multiple arms of this profile and see what fits (like they did with Arquimedes Caminero last year).

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Starling Marte & The Longest Home Runs at PNC Park

starling marte

Entering Friday’s game, Starling Marte had collected just three hits in his first 29 bats of the 2015 season while carrying a hideous 42.4% strikeout rate. He was bumped down to the sixth spot of the lineup, but managed to do some good things: infield hit, stolen base, a pair of runs scored… and he obliterated one to a place where baseballs simply don’t travel at PNC Park.

The cure? Jonathan Broxton. The Bucs continued their domination of the right-handed reliever, scoring three runs against him in the bottom of last night’s eighth inning. Broxton’s career ERA at PNC Park now sits at 14.44 … after serving this 92 mph fastball on a platter to Marte:

starling marte vs jonathan broxton

The landing spot:

starling marte home run

You don’t see that often. According to ESPN Home Run Tracker: 460 feet. That would be the longest at PNC since 2006 — when Home Run Tracker started — just two feet shy of Carlos Guillen‘s 462-ft shot off Ian Snell on 7/2/2006.

pnc park longest home runs

Here’s a map of the last 250 home runs at PNC Park…

longest home runs pnc park

That ball was tanked. Hopefully it gets Marte going back in the right direction.

Go Bucs

Pirates Grapefruit Report: Week 3

mckechnie field

We’re reaching the very dull phase of spring training, where players and fans alike are wishing for real games that count. Alas, here’s what happened in the Grapefruit League over the past week, in case you were busy watching college basketball…

Tuesday, 3/17 – Astros 13, Pirates 7

Jeff Locke obliterated for six runs in three innings. The offense got going for seven runs — their best since the Grapefruit opener — but it obviously wasn’t enough. Neil Walker went deep to the right-center boardwalk.


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