Originally written on WHYGAVS?  |  Last updated 11/18/14

For some context, here's how much worse the Pirates are than everyone in the National League right now when it comes to hitting:

Tm R/G G PA AB R ▾ H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB ATL 5.69 16 613 546 91 144 29 4 18 51 115 .264 .324 .430 .754 111 235 STL 5.12 16 625 559 82 157 28 6 20 51 126 .281 .346 .460 .806 129 257 COL 4.80 15 573 516 72 137 34 7 14 47 105 .266 .329 .440 .769 102 227 HOU 4.44 16 629 556 71 139 25 7 9 62 127 .250 .329 .369 .698 98 205 LAD 4.25 16 602 520 68 129 29 3 15 62 103 .248 .331 .402 .733 108 209 MIL 4.19 16 584 518 67 116 29 5 19 45 127 .224 .295 .409 .704 95 212 ARI 4.00 16 594 523 64 117 22 3 17 58 131 .224 .306 .375 .680 89 196 LgAvg 3.94 16 588 525 62 127 25 4 12 50 115 .242 .310 .376 .686 93 197 SDP 3.53 17 631 546 60 117 25 8 10 68 134 .214 .306 .344 .650 89 188 CHC 3.69 16 584 528 59 124 23 6 5 41 123 .235 .296 .330 .626 77 174 SFG 4.14 14 542 493 58 125 25 5 10 41 77 .254 .312 .385 .698 103 190 WSN 3.62 16 623 551 58 134 26 1 10 61 118 .243 .320 .348 .668 89 192 MIA 3.80 15 560 506 57 124 26 4 12 45 104 .245 .307 .383 .690 93 194 CIN 3.31 16 622 551 53 123 28 4 9 52 122 .223 .294 .338 .632 76 186 NYM 3.79 14 530 467 53 120 24 0 14 53 116 .257 .332 .398 .730 109 186 PHI 2.69 16 587 540 43 129 19 1 7 33 107 .239 .283 .317 .600 67 171 PIT 2.00 15 515 480 30 97 13 2 7 25 110 .202 .249 .281 .530 52 135 3.94 250 9414 8400 986 2032 405 66 196 795 1845 .242 .310 .376 .686 93 3157

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2012.

High and Outside Baseball took at look at what it'd take for the Pirates offense to get back to league average after their pitiful start. The whole thing is worth your time, but here's a sampling: 

The Pirates will have to average 4.34 runs a game to reach the 2011 runs/game league average. For perspective, the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies offense averaged 4.40 runs a game. The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates did not come close to averaging 4.34 Runs/Game in any month.

We could spend all day sitting here pointing fingers, saying that the Pirates need more from Barmes and Barajas (both of their OPS+ are below zero), saying that the Pirates should never be counting on Barmes and Barajas in the first place and that they need more from Alvarez and Tabata, saying that the Pirates need more from literally every person on the team and no one is exempt from that criticism, including Andrew McCutchen because 17 of his 20 hits are singles and his .400 BABIP is making me uncomfortable right now, or saying that every single one of these things are true. 

Here's what I'll say: to a man, this team has an alarming lack of patience at the plate. The only player on the team that's seen any sort of playing time and taken any walks at all is Mike McKenry, who's drawn four free passes in 18 plate appearances. That ties him for the team lead with Andrew McCutchen (four walks in 62 plate appearances) and Neil Walker (four walks in 54 PAs). As a team, the Pirates are on pace for 253 walks.

It'd probably be fair to say that I'm losing the trees for the forest by focusing on walk rate with an offense that's so toothless. Still, remember that the major changes to the team's lineup this winter included adding Clint Barmes (career OBP: .300), Rod Barajas (career OBP: .286) and Alex Presley (minor league walk rate: 7.6%) to a lineup that had a OBP of .309 last year (12th in the NL). 

I suppose what I'm saying is this: it's more than fair to expect the Pirates' offense to improve some based on their ugly start. It'd be the most improbable thing in the world for them to end the season with 324 runs. That said, do not dismiss these struggles out of hand because we've only seen 15 games this year. The club's biggest offensive problem by far right now is getting on base (look at the gap between them and pretty much everyone in OBP vs. the gap between them and pretty much everyone in SLG) and that's not a problem that's going to fix itself over night.

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