Return To Average: The Pirates In Weeks 20 And 21

September 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Brock Holt (2) wears a uniform with the number incorrectly stitched on against the Houston Astros during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE


It is looking more and more like this series of posts was aptly named. The 2012 Pirates appear headed towards scoring and allowing a league average number of runs for the season. This run distribution will likely translate into an average record. After 19 straight losing seasons, the 2012 edition of the Pirates may end up being the team that is known for returning the franchise to average.

As we discussed here and here the historical profile of 87 win teams is either to score a league average (or above) number of runs while allowing 90 percent or less of league average runs, or maintain a 10 percent spread between runs scored and allowed, relative to league average. It is unlikely that the 2012 Pirates will reach either of those goals. As of the end of play Sunday, August 2, the Pirates have scored 98 percent of league average runs and allowed 96 percent. Barring a dramatic late season shift in run distribution or tremendous luck in 1-run games, it appears the 2012 Pirates will not be a significantly above average team. (Since 1980, only one National League team has scored less than 99 percent of league average runs AND allowed over 91 percent of average runs AND still won 87 games.)

After the jump: The updated Return to Average tables, some Quick Hits, and a History Will Be Made update.

If you are new to the "Return to Average" updates, an explanation for why we are tracking the runs allowed and runs scored numbers can be found here. The reasons why we are tracking the offensive and run prevention numbers at different rates can be found here.

Offense

The Pirates played six games last week and scored 30 runs, for an average of 5 RS/G. Their RS/G for the season has increased from 4.1 to 4.2. Last week they needed to average 4.7 runs per game to reach the projected NL average (4.25) by the end of the season. That number has decreased to 4.6. In other words, the Pirates offense will have to score 8.9 percent above projected NL average for the rest of the season in order to reach a NL average number of runs scored.

(Click to enlarge)

9312rta2021_medium

Interpretation: the goal is to have the red line meet the green line at the purple line. The purple line is projected NL average. The green line is what the Pirates will have to average to meet expected NL average runs per game by the end of the season. Red line is the season average of runs scored per game. Blue line is this week's RS/G.

Run Prevention

The Pirates played six games this week and allowed 28 runs, an average of 4.7 runs allowed per game. Their RA/G for the season increased from 4.0 to 4.1. Last week they needed to average below 3.0 RA/G to finish at 90 percent of NL average runs allowed. That number has decreased to 2.7. For the Pirates pitching/defense to finish with 90 percent of league average RA/G, they will have to allow 36.5 percent fewer runs than expected NL average runs for the rest of the year.

9312rtad2021_medium

Interpretation: goal is to have the red line remain below the purple line. The lines have the same meaning as those in the first graph, except they are for runs allowed.

Runs Scored / Runs Allowed Compared By Week

For the first time in five weeks the Pirates scored more runs than they allowed (blue Line above the red line).

9312rta22021rars_medium

Observation

The Pirates are clearly not going to reach their goal of allowing only 90 percent of league average runs. Looking at the blue line in the "Defense" table above we can see what has happened. The trend for most of the season had been for the defense to allow above 4 R/G one week and then turn around and allow less than 3 R/G the next. However, for the past six weeks in a row they have allowed more than 4 R/G. Over this 39 game stretch the Pirates have allowed 193 runs, for an average of 4.94 RA/G.

Conversely, after averaging more than a league average number of runs for six weeks in a row (weeks 9-15), the offense now looks like the defense did earlier this season. That is, for the past five weeks the offense has bounced between scoring above and below a league average number of runs.

Quick Hits

The Pirates combined record for the past five Augusts is 43-100. 2012 (11-17); 2011 (8-22); 2010 (8-21); 2009 (9-19); 2008 (7-21).

73.9 percent of the fly balls that Pedro Alvarez has pulled have resulted in home runs. (link)

History Will Be Made?

The Pirates are on pace to set a MLB record for lowest BB/K ratio. Currently their ratio is .31. The '68 Mets and '09 Giants are right behind them at .32 and .34 respectively.

The Pirates are very close to setting a MLB record for lowest caught stealing percentage (CS%). The 2007 Padres currently hold the record, having only caught 9.5 percent of would-be base stealers. The Pirates are second with a 9.9 percent CS rate.

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Consider following me on Twitter @DavidManel and Bucsdugout.com @Bucsdugout

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