FanPost

Pirates Opening Day Lineups

I saw someone post the Pirates opening day lineups from the past few years and wanted to do a little more with it. Neal Huntington was hired on September 27, 2007. I arbitrarily decided to start with the previous season (2007; the last one under Dave Littlefield and the first of four straight last place finishes in the NL Central) and used BBRef for lineups and stats. 2012 ZiPS aren't out for the Bucs, yet, so to compare the hitters more evenly I used Bill James' projected 2012 OPS from Fangraphs and listed previous years OPS followed by OPS+ and WAR in parentheses. Bedard's ZiPS came out with Boston's for 2012, so I just used ERA+ for pitchers. Team final W-L record appears next to year.

2007 (68-94) average OPS 734

C Ronny Paulino - .703 OPS (83 OPS+, 1.1 oWAR)

1B Adam LaRoche - .803 (109, 1.1)

2B Jose Castillo - .604 (58, -1.0)

3B Jose Bautista - .753 (96, 1.1)

SS Jack Wilson - .791 (106, 2.3)

LF Jason Bay - .746 (94, 0.8)

CF Chris Duffy - .670 (76, 0.1)

RF Xavier Nady - .805 (108, 0.9)

SP Zach Duke - 69 ERA+ (-0.8 WAR)

2008 (67-95) average OPS 803

C Ryan Doumit - .858 (127, 4.0)

1B Adam LaRoche - .841 (122, 2.1)

2B Freddy Sanchez - .669 (78, 0.6)

3B Jose Bautista - .728 (94, 0.9)

SS Jack Wilson - .659 (76, 0.1)

LF Jason Bay - .894 (136, 3.9)

CF Nate McLouth - .853 (125, 5.2)

RF Xavier Nady - .919 (143, 2.4)

SP Ian Snell - 78, (-0.8)

2009 (62-99) average OPS 735

C Ryan Doumit - .714 (88, 0.8)

1B Adam LaRoche - .770 (103, 0.3)

2B Freddy Sanchez - .776 (105, 1.5)

3B Andy LaRoche - .731 (94, 1.2)

SS Jack Wilson - .691 (83, 0.7)

RF Nyjer Morgan - .707 (90, 0.3)

CF Nate McLouth - .819 (116, 1.2)

RF Brandon Moss - .668 (77, -0.8)

SP Paul Maholm - 94 (1.5)

2010 (57-105) average OPS 672

C Ryan Doumit - .738 (100, 0.9)

1B Jeff Clement - .605 (62, -0.8)

2B Akinori Iwamura - .558 (54, -0.6)

3B Andy LaRoche - .555 (52, -0.7)

SS Ronny Cedeno - .675 (82, 1.3)

LF Lastings Milledge - .712 (94, 0.1)

CF Andrew McCutchen - .814 (121, 4.4)

RF Garrett Jones - .720 (94, 0.2)

SP Zach Duke - 71 (-0.8)

2011 (72-90) average OPS 713

C Ryan Doumit - .830 (128, 1.5)

1B Lyle Overbay - .649 (80, -0.6)

2B Neil Walker - .743 (105, 2.8)

3B Pedro Alvarez - .561 (56, -1.2)

SS Ronny Cedeno - .636 (76, 0.5)

LF Jose Tabata - .711 (98, 0.3)

CF Andrew McCutchen - .820 (127, 4.8)

RF Garrett Jones - .753 (107, 0.9)

SP Kevin Correia - 80 (0.4)

2012 (projected) average projected OPS 752

C Rod Barajas - .677

1B Garrett Jones - .776

2B Neil Walker - .758

SS Clint Barmes - .696

3B Pedro Alvarez - .761

LF Jose Tabata - .736

CF Andrew McCutchen - .823

RF Alex Presley - .791

SP Erik Bedard - 106 ERA+

A lot of this data is misleading because some of the guys who started Opening Day flamed out (most of the 2010 lineup) and others were traded away. I'm sure we'll see some of this in 2012: maybe Alvarez bombs early and we see McGehee (or GFJ with the same result), maybe Presley or Tabata gets dealt to the Nats... who knows. And the season hasn't started, yet; NH still has time to add a long-term solution at 1B. Maybe Matt Hague starts hitting in ST and doesn't stop until the Angels sign him for 10 years/$250 million in 2021. I'm not sure if ZiPS existed before 2010; that's when I discovered it. Perhaps comparing those season finishes to the ZiPS projections would be useful in forecasting how much these players over-/underachieved.

What I can tell is that 2012 is looking like the best overall offensive unit to open the season for NH aside from his juggernaut inaugural 2008 campaign. Also, 2010 was the best season result in this sample despite having the 2nd lowest average OPS; it's no secret that the pitching staff carried a mediocre offense last year. Erik Bedard is projected to be, by far, the best Opening Day starter the Pirates have had over this span. My basic premise (which I feel was pretty strongly supported) is that the Pirates are in a better state than they were when NH took over the team after the 2007 season based solely on the lineup constructed in the offseason... and that's before the farm systems, pitching staffs, and depth are compared. This is not a team of organizational also-rans or 2010's Isle of Misfit Toys, but a legitimate (though light-hitting) MLB lineup.

Baes

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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