Tracy: Pirates Not Delivering In Clutch Situations

Jim Tracy has no idea what ails this team.

Tracy made it clear prior to Thursday's rainout that there was only so much he and his staff could do for his struggling hitters.

"It's a matter of mentally applying yourself to the situation and then physically executing," Tracy said. "That's what a good big-league player does. That's what a winning big-league player does."

Well, Tracy could fix some of the hitting problems by playing the right hitters. Not to sound like a broken record, but when you start Jose Hernandez at first base against a right-handed pitcher, you deserve at least some of what you get. The Pirates have too many bad hitters, but Tracy isn't helping matters at all.

...[F]ailure to hit in the clutch has been as damaging as anything else.

"I don't think they should be frustrated," Tracy insisted of his hitters before the Arizona series. "My job is to continue to try to do things from a manager's standpoint and strategically to put 'em in that position.

"There have been an abnormal number of days when we've had that opportunity (and failed to take advantage of it). But one of the things that helps make you a good ballclub is your ability to deliver in those types of situations."

Frankly, that is ridiculous. The Pirates don't "deliver in those types of situations" because they stink and therefore don't deliver in any types of situations. Overall, the Pirates are batting .238 with a .304 OBP, both worst in the National League. With runners on, they have virtually identical numbers, hitting .243 with a .300 OBP. They have a much better OPS with runners on than overall (.718 vs. .686). If the Pirates cannot hit like a major league team, by what logic is it expected that they hit like a major league team with runners on base?

Change the split and Tracy's statement looks even sillier. With runners in scoring position, they're hitting .238/.314/.418/.731. With runners in scoring position and two outs, they're hitting .256/.357/.397/.754, fifth in the National League in OPS in that situation. Relative to the rest of their performance, the Pirates are, in fact, coming through with runners on base.

In "close and late" situations, the Pirates have indeed been bad, hitting .213/.276/.333/.609. But most teams tend to do worse than their overall performance in such situations - there are seven teams below a .700 OPS, and the Marlins have a .577 OPS - because they're facing high-leverage relievers, who tend to have low ERAs. The Pirates' performance in those situations is not at all surprising given their overall performance.

Instead of blaming the Pirates' problems here on clutch hitting, perhaps Tracy should notice that the Pirates are 16th in the league in OBP and 14th in OPS. They're also 16th in runs scored. They will stay near the bottom in runs scored unless their OBP and OPS improve, because that correlation is just about impossible to shake. Clutch hitting really has nothing to do with it.

Finally:

"I find it hard to believe Jason Bay and Jeromy Burnitz are going to struggle offensively for an entire season," Tracy said.

Tracy, you leave Jason Bay out of this. As for Burnitz, why does Tracy not understand that veterans sometimes just disappear, and that there wasn't much left of Burnitz in the first place?

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