Notes from today's press scrum at a rainy PNC Park:
Is the Pirates' offense performing under projections?
This afternoon Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle returned to a theme that he's repeated many times this season: namely, that many players on the team are performing below internal team projections and that he expects they will turn things around.
I believe this is an offense that will self-correct. We have a number of players who haven't met expectations, our projections. We have a few that have met expectations. ... We expect more from our offense.
I've been curious about this point for a while now, so this afternoon I quickly compared the actual performance of Pirates' hitters to their ZiPS projections (via wOBA). I'll expand this study over the All-Star break to include as many projections systems as I can, but this gets us an interesting first look:
(click to enlarge)
"Self-correction" obviously works in both directions. Assuming for a minute that ZiPS is a top-notch projection system and not that far off from internal team projections, a glance of the list of players that are overachieving compared to the list that is underachieving presents a different way to look at current the situation. Indeed, one could make the argument that Pirates are fortunate in the sense that the list of players who are underachieving are not the players that the team was necessarily counting on to provide the bulk of the offense. On the other hand, the players that are overachieving / playing to expectations are mostly players that the offense was built around to begin with. Therefore, the larger issue going forward may be whether the overachievers remain stable.
Playing on National TV
Hurdle said that he understood the hype surrounding the Pirates being on national TV but that he was more excited by the buzz and energy the team is creating in the city:
“What I’m really liking right now is just taking a walk. You see the kids, the this generation of the fanbase, with the armored 'P,' with Pirates stuff. All of it is good.”
Pirates sign Eric Weiss
The Pirates have announced that 11th round pick Eric Weiss has signed with the club.
Optioning Cole during the All-Star Break?
The Oakland A's optioned last night's starter Dan Straily down to Triple A today. The idea behind the move is that Oakland can go with a four man starting rotation to the All-Star Break and Straily can continue on a schedule in the minors. Today Clint Hurdle was asked if the Pirates were considering a similar move with Gerrit Cole:
Very interesting stuff isn't it? It's not the first time it's come across our table. We're going to talk to the pitchers after you guys (the press) leave. ... I think anytime you have a young pitcher you try to find the best way to, at least in Oakland's case, keep him pitching and not have him sit for 14 days. So that's how Oakland chose to work it.