Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates Need to KISS it on the Bases

The population of TOOTBLAN city continues to grow as the Pirates make base running gaffes on an almost daily basis. Last night The Pirates had to sweat out a 4-2 win against the Cubs in a game they should have won comfortably. Gregory Polanco, Russell Martin, and Starling Marte all were cut down on the bases due to inexplicable base running mistakes. Actually, it might not be fair to call Marte’s gaffe inexplicable. He should get an assist on that TOOTBLAN from Jordy Mercer and the Pirates’ coaching staff that continues to encourage boneheaded base running. Let me detail the play and my immediate twitter reaction as the play unfolded.
With one out in the 5th inning and runners on the corners pinch hitter Travis Snider hit a pop up behind home plate. Catcher John Baker made the easy catcher to retire Snider. Jordy Mercer decided to tag up at first base and then broke for second base to force a throw from Baker to 2B Darwin Barney. Mercer put on the breaks intending to give Starling Marte and opportunity to score from third base. Marte didn’t seem to be in on the ruse. Barney fired a strike to 3B to get Marte who had drifted a few steps off the bag. And here was my reaction:


As I mentioned at the time, for a player with Marte’s speed this is almost like a double steal and could work if executed correctly:


Clint Hurdle basically confirmed my line of thinking in his post game remarks:

We ran in Milwaukee earlier in the year. We drew a throw from about 150 feet with air underneath it and as soon as that ball is out of the catcher’s hand we need to break from third.

So the question is would you consider pressuring a defense to execute two throws of at least 120 feet to nab a speedy base runner at the plate a worthy gamble when you have two outs and a light hitter like Clint Barmes on deck? If you have lightening quick base runners with good instincts that have earned the opportunity to be turned loose on the bases, then maybe. But what the Pirates have is Starling Marte. He is fast alright, but the instincts and attention span are questionable at best.
The Pirates can’t continue to make these kinds of base running mistakes. It is time to pull back and put away the cutesy Little League-esque base running plays. They have to dial down on the aggressiveness, and if that means giving the stop sign and being more judicious with putting base runners in motion then so be it. I like pressuring the defense with good heady base running plays. But the Pirates are so far from executing even the simple stuff on the bases that all they are doing is giving away outs. At least if Barmes hits in that situation and makes an out you clear his spot in the order for the next inning and keep the lineup turning over. With the way Andrew McCutchen is hitting lately keeping the lineup moving is a very good thing. It is time for Clint Hurdle to settle things down and get this team back to the basics. The edict from the skipper should be for the Pirates to KISS it on the bases. Maybe Gaby Sanchez can translate for Starling Marte. KISS means to Keep It Simple Stupid.

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