Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/17/14

At the end of May, I observed how the Pittsburgh Pirates had an offense poised for history. They were no just bad at scoring runs, they were great at making outs. They had a team wRC+ twelve points lower than the next-nearest lineup:

I called it a “catastrophe” then, but now it has become a swash-buckle’d turnaround.

In the month of June, the Pirates had a 111 wRC+, good for fourth-best in the MLB. So far, five days into July, the Pirates have a 161 wRC+ and .408 wOBA. They have gone from worst in the league, the third-worst in just a little over a month:

In my previous article, it should be noted, I was excited at the chance of witnessing something spectacular — an offense poised to enter the history books as one of the worst in modern baseball. But at the same time, I recognized there was a lot of things bouncing the wrong way, that could just as easily start to bounce right:

If we De-Luck the Pirates position players, we see quite a few possible BABIP regression candidates. But if they meet only the downgraded expectations of an adjusted slash12 xBABIP, only Michael McKenry (.329 De-Luck’d wOBA) crosses to the positive side of league average, while [Josh Harrison] (.279) drops well below it.

Still, we can expect some of these players to either (1) change their approach and get better results or (2) get replaced faster than an NBC sitcom.

What we have seen in the Pirates is a little of both. They added Drew Sutton‘s bat from the waiver wire and redistributed their playing time.

Here is a couple of different visual ways to see the differences in the first two months from the last month.

A chart with relative color coding:

And a wRC+ graph:

And my personal favorite, a cumulative wRC graph:

A couple of things stick out:

1) Andrew McCutchen, for most purposes, IS the Pirate offense.

2) Nate McLouth and Yamaico Navarro both lost playing time and are no long on the big league club (McCouth got DFA’d). This opened playing time for Sutton and Presley.

3) Alex Presley has also made a massive turnaround, posting a respectable 13 wRC in the month of June.

4) In March/April, the team had a .279 BABIP. In May that dropped to .256. In June, they hit .311 BABIP. And so far in July? A whopping .431 BABIP.

5) The team’s walk rates also went: 6.1%, 6.6% to 7.5%.

Add to this offensive resurgence a starting rotation that — though perhaps a bit top-heavy (James McDonald and A.J. Burnett doing the heavy lifting) — can take care of itself, and then add a yet-again disappointing NL Central division, and we find a Pittsburgh Pirates team poised to maybe build a neat little alcove of treasures up there in first place.

So well done, Pirates. You had a shot at history, and you blew it, but at least you have a shot at the playoffs now.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

50 Cent bets $1.6M on Mayweather beating Pacquiao

Wizards apologize for odd Black History Month tribute

Report: McCoy may want more money from Bills

Andre Johnson laughed upon hearing he wouldn't start

Brad Stevens: LeBron 'looks like the MVP to me'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Le'Veon Bell tees off on Mel Kiper Jr. over Twitter

Eagles ship LeSean McCoy to Bills for Kiko Alonso

Murray would reportedly give Cowboys hometown discount

Report: Giants ‘considering a run’ at Ndamukong Suh

Darnell Dockett reportedly visiting 49ers on Tuesday

David West on Brian Shaw being fired: ‘That’s bulls–t'

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Columbus Zoo names newborn penguin after Ezekiel Elliott

Matt Barnes blasts NBA over James Harden suspension

Joe Rogan: Ronda Rousey could beat half the men

Bills tell C.J. Spiller he won't be re-signed

Ohio State self-reported funny NCAA violation

Lupul, Phaneuf, Cuthbert threaten lawsuit against TSN

Report: Adrian Peterson has trade list of five preferred teams

Murphy disagrees with Billy Bean’s homosexual 'lifestyle'

Trent Cole has ‘no respect’ for Eagles after release from team

Ronda Rousey lands free ticket to Pacquiao-Mayweather bout

Report: Celtics to pursue Love, Monroe and Gasol this summer

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.