Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Category – Comedy and Lighter Side

Help Wanted: Bullpen Arm

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in immediate need of an experienced relief pitcher capable of holding leads after the 7th inning. The candidate must possess a fastball with an average velocity of 92 mph or greater and demonstrate reasonable proficiency at throwing strikes. A 50% ground ball rate is not required but is a plus. Duties of the position include entering the game in the 6th inning or later to maintain a lead or tie game and not allowing any baseballs to leave the yard. The candidate may be asked to enter the game as early as the 4th inning on days that Mr. Nibbles Jeff Locke is the scheduled starting pitcher. For immediate consideration report to the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field in Denver Colorado and ask to meet with pitching coach Ray Searage.
 

Raise The Jolly Roger in Walk-Off Style – Videos of Every Pirates Walk-Off Win

The Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 season came to a disappointing end at the hands of Chicago Cubs in the NL Wild Card Game, but that doesn’t mean this season should be forgotten. The Jolly Roger was Raised an astonishing 98 times this season. 53 of those wins sent the hometown crowd home happy. There was a lot of exciting baseball played on the North Shore this summer, and as always the walk-offs were the most exciting games that will live on in our memories the longest. The Pirates gave us 11 such victories this season. Here are all 11 of them. Enjoy!

 
1) June 12, 2015 – Starling Marte grounds a single through the middle to knock in Chris Stewart as the Pirates beat the Phillies 1-0 in 13 innings.


 

2) June 14, 2015 – Same teams, same score, same exact type of hit. This time it was Josh Harrison playing the hero in the 11th inning.


 

3) June 26, 2015 – Jordy Mercer treated an old friend very unkindly when he doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Braves. The losing pitcher was former Pirates’ closer Jason Grilli


 

4) July 6, 2015 – Pedro Alvarez knocks in the winning run with a single to RF to beat the Padres 2-1 in the bottom the 9th inning


 

5) July 11, 2015 – This was the most memorable moment of the season. The Pirates trailed St. Louis by a run in the bottom of the 14th inning. Neil Walker led off with a single and was followed by this home run to CF by Andrew McCutchen to walk-off the rival Cardinals who the Pirates were chasing for 1st place in the NL Central Division


 

6) July 12, 2015 – Just a day later the Pirates would do it to the Cardinals again. In the final game before the All-Star Break the Bucs rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 10th inning off of Cards’ closer Trevor Rosenthal. Gregory Polanco provided the winning hit by knocking in Jung Ho Kang.


 

7) August 7, 2015 – Pedro Alvarez played walk-off hero for the second time in the season with this game winning single to beat the Dodgers.


 

8) August 18, 2015 – This was perhaps the wildest game of the season and featured the most unlikely hero. The Bucs blew a late 5 run lead against the Diamondbacks and were forced into extra innings until Pedro Florimon drove in the winning run in the bottom of 15th inning with this trip…trip…triple!


 

9) August 22, 2015 – The Pirates had just 3 hits in this game, but all of them were solo home runs including this drive by Starling Marte with 2 outs in the 9th inning to down the Giants 3-2.


 

10) September 13, 2015 – The Pirates rallied from an early 6-1 deficit to take the Brewers to extra innings. Josh Harrison capped off the comeback with the game winning hit in the 11th inning.


 

11) October 2, 2015 – Another Marte Partay! Starling Marte hit his second walk-off home run of the season, this time in the 12th inning against the Reds.


 

Hidden Vigorish and a Wild Ass Wild Card Prediction

If you are a Pittsburgh Pirates fan you are most likely familiar with the term Hidden Vigorish, which is the inspiration behind the name of this website. Hidden Vigorish is a term coined by the late great Pirates play-by-play announcer Bob “The Gunner” Prince that describes a situation/team/player that is “overdue” to come through in the clutch. You need not be a Pirates fan or be familiar with Bob Prince to understand the concept of Hidden Vigorish. Essentially it is the “Law of Averages“, though the Gunner made it out to be an almost a mystical force that affected nearly all situations in the sport of baseball. A hitter in an 0-20 slump had an unbelievable amount of Hidden Vigorish stored up ready to swing the outcome of his next at bat to his favor.
 

If Bob Prince were alive today he would most certainly have a wry smile on his face as he contemplates all of the Hidden Vigorish that is dripping from the 2015 National League Wild Card Game that is to be played tonight between the Pirates and the Cubs at PNC Park. So let’s take a look at one very Wild Ass, Wild Card prediction that isn’t all that far fetched when you factor in Hidden Vigorish.
 
Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta is on an historic run in which he has posted a microscopic ERA of 0.75 since the all-star break. Since July 1st he has surrendered just two home runs – both hit by the lowly Philadelphia Phillies. Arrieta will have to overcome a tremendous amount of Hidden Vigorish to keep the ball in the yard tonight. And which Pirates’ hitter will step to the plate with the most plentiful amount of Hidden Vigorish on his side? That would be Josh Harrison who has not homered since May 15th. So, you heard it here first. Josh Harrison will take Jake Arrieta deep!
 
Got your own Wild Card prediction that is influenced by Hidden Vigorish? Tweet it out with #wildcardhiddenvigorish
 

Pirates New Year’s Resolution Suggestions

Happy New Year to my friends, followers, and fellow Pittsburgh Pirates fans. New Year’s Day is the unofficial midpoint of the MLB offseason. Spring Training is right around the corner. Keep that in mind when you are singing Auld Lang Syne and watching the ball drop. To celebrate the occasion I’m offering up three suggestions for New Years’s Resolutions for the Pittsburgh Pirates to consider.
 

    1) Run the bases smarter. It was tons of fun watching Josh Harrison make infielders look silly while escaping from rundowns, but I think we can all agree that JHay and his teammates are guilty of entirely too many TOOTBLANS. This one by Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez was just comically stupid.
     

     
    It is time to resolve to put an end to the bad base running in 2015.
     

    2) Pitch inside with precision. The Pirate pitching staff plunked 88 hitters last season. That was 19 more than any other team in baseball. Not only did this put additional runners on base, but it also put Andrew McCutchen at serious risk due to retaliation by opposing pitchers. Pirate pitchers need to pitch inside to be successful, but they need to do it with it some precision. Hitting 80+ batters in a season in unacceptable. Perhaps the Pirates should resolve to be a little more cautious when pitching on the inner half of the plate.

     
    3) Use the entire roster. The Pirates treated Stolmy Pimentel like a Rule 5 selection. He rarely pitched unless the game was a blowout. The Bucs essentially wasted the 25th spot on the roster to carry Pimentel. This wasn’t the only inefficient roster management the team was guilty of. Manager Clint Hurdle was left shorthanded for most of the month of August because the team did not want to place McCutchen or Neil Walker on the disabled list despite injuries that left them unavailable for a couple of weeks.

 

Got any good Pirates New Year’s Resolution suggestions of your own? Tweet them to me @piratesvigorish. Happy New Year! Baseball will be here sooner than you know it.
 

Pirates 2014 Season From A to Z

A is for Attendance. The Pirates drew 2,442,564 fans to PNC Park this season to set an new franchise attendance record.

 
B for Bumgarner, as in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner dominated the Pirates in a complete game shutout at PNC Park in the N.L Wild Card Game to end their 2014 season

 
C is for Cutch. Star CF Andrew McCutchen had another fine season and once against was an MVP candidate. He may not win the MVP award this season, but he is a virtual lock for his 3rd straight top 5 finish.

 
D is for Diamondbacks. A series against the Diamondbacks from August 1st – 3rd turned into a brutal beanball war that ultimately ended with the Pirates losing Andrew McCutchen for several weeks with a broken rib.

 
E is for Eddie V. Edinson Volquez was brought in as a free agent to replace A.J. Burnett in the rotation. Many, including myself, thought it was a bad signing. But Eddie V turned out to be better than expected. He still shouldn’t have been the starting pitcher in the Wild Card Game though.

 

F is for Frieri, as in Ernesto Frieri. The Pirates acquired relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri in late June from the Angels. Frieri was a disaster. On July 8th he gave up walk-off home run to Cardinals second basemen Kolten Wong. Frieri continued to suck for another month before the Pirates DFA’d him on August 8th.

 
G is for Grilli. Jason Grilli entered the season as the Pirates closer, but after a string of blown saves he was dealt to the Angels for Ernesto Frieri on June 27th.

 
H is for Hit By Pitch. Pirate pitchers are taught to aggressively pitch inside. One of the byproducts of that approach is that they hit a lot of batters. The Pirate pitching staff hit 88 batters which led the league by a wide margin.

 
I is for Ike. The Pirates acquired 1B Ike Davis from the Mets on April 18th. Ike spent most of the summer taking pitches, even when they were 3rd strikes.

 
J is for JHay. Josh Harrison was the Pirates surprise hero of the season. JHay’s rise from bench player to all-star was meteoric. He started the year as essentially the 25th man on the roster. By season’s end he was the leadoff hitter, starting 3B, and one of the most important players on the team. JHay could seemingly do anything… including Houdiniesque escapes from rundowns.
 

 
K is for Ks. Pirate hitters had significantly fewer of them this season. Under new hitting coach Jeff Branson the Pirates struck out 86 times less than in 2013.

 
L is for Lunchbox. Lunchbox is the nickname of Pirates RF Travis Snider. Snider has been much maligned for most of his tenure with the Pirates, but he had something of a breakout season in 2014 and eventually earned the starting RF job.

 
M is for Marte. After struggling for much of the 1st half of the season Starling Marte turned his season around after returning from a brief stay on the DL in late July. Marte was one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last two months of the season.
 

N is for “No Move is the Right Move”. That was GM Neal Huntington’s explanation for why he didn’t make any trades to strengthen the team at the deadline.

 

O is for offense. This was the Pirates strongest offensive team since the early 90′s. They posted a 109 wRC+ (weighted run created plus) which was 4th best in the baseball and the highest total by a Pirates team since 1991.
 

P is for Polanco. Highly touted prospect Gregory Polanco made his debut on June 10th. He got off to a hot start but struggled in July and August. Eventually he was benched and sent back down to the minors.
 

Q is for qualifying offer. According to the front office the Pirates could not afford to offer one to A.J. Burnett.
 

R is for Russ, as in catcher Russell Martin. Martin is always great defensively, but this season he had a career year offensively too. Russ is a soon to be free agent and much of the talk this summer centered around whether or not the Pirates would be able to sign him to a new contract that would keep him in Pittsburgh.
 

S is for Sanchez. The Pirates have two of them and neither one did much this season.

 

T is for TOOTBLAN. The Pirates base running was comically bad at times this season. This incident was by far the worst offense.
 

 
U is for useless. Useless describes the Pirates bench in early August that consisted of Michael Martinez, Jayson Nix, and Brent Morel while a number of key players were on the disabled list.

 

V is for Vanimal, the nickname of pitcher Vance Worley. Worley became the latest pitcher the Pirates were able to find on the scrap heap and transform into a quality starting pitcher.

 
W is for walk-off. The Pirates had 10 walk-off wins in 2014 including this game winning home run by Neil Walker on opening day.
 

 
X is for xFIP. xFIP is a better predictor of future performance for pitchers than ERA. Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez both significantly outperformed their xFIP which means they probably won’t be as good next season.

 
Y is for yips. Pedro Alvarez had a very bad case of the yips this season. Alvarez led all of baseball with 24 throwing errors.

 
Z is for Zoltan. For the 3rd straight summer Pirate players flashed the Zoltan Z sign after getting a hit. The team didn’t start the season using the Z, but they brought it back in late April after an early season slump.

 

Reliving Every Pirates Walk-Off Win in 2014

There is still a week left for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2014 regular season, but the remaining schedule is all on the road. That means no more walk-off wins, not counting the post season of course. Walk-offs are always special to the home fans. Just by their very nature they are the most exciting type of win a team can have. The Pirates gave us plenty of walk-offs in 2014. 10 of the Pirates 51 home wins were of the walk-off variety. Let’s relive them all one more time.

 
1) March 31, 2014 – Neil Walker goes yard on Opening Day


 

2) April 2, 2014 – Tony Sanchez‘s pinch-hit RBI single in the 16th inning ends the longest home game in Pittsburgh’s 128-year history at 5 hours and 55 minutes.


 

3) April 21, 2014 – Neil Walker bloops a ball just over the glove of Reds 2B Brandon Phillips to drive in Russell Martin in the 10th inning


 

4) May 2, 2014 – Starling Marte hits a solo blast to walk-off the Blue Jays


 

5) May 6, 2014 – Perhaps the craziest walk-off ever. Starling Marte triples and then tries to score as the throw skips past the third baseman. Marte was initially called out at home. After a review the play was reversed giving the Pirates a walk-off win over the Giants.


 

6) June 19, 2014 – Shrimp Alert! The Pirates truly walk-off in this one as Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani issues a bases loaded walk to Russell Martin in the bottom of the 12th inning.


 

7) June 27, 2014 – Josh Harrison hits a double in the 11 inning to drive in Clint Barmes to beat the Mets


 

8) July 1, 2014 – Arizona Pitcher Wade Miley dominated the Pirates thru 8 innings and took a 2-0 lead into the 9th. The Pirates would rally for 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning capped off by Ike Davis‘s RBI single


 

9) July 19, 2014 – Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker to give the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Rockies in 11 innings


 

10) August 20, 2014 – The Pirates snapped a season long 7 game losing streak when Gaby Sanchez lifted a fly ball deep enough to score Jordy Mercer to give the Bucs a 3-2 win over the Braves


 

So there you have it. All 10 Pirate walk-off wins this season. There was a little bit of every thing. We saw a few game ending home runs, an overturned review walk-off, and even a walk-off walk. It made for 10 fantastic finishes at PNC Park this summer. Hopefully we can add to this list in the post season.
 

Early Spring Training Reports Make Me Vomit

In my opinion the worst time of year to be a baseball fan is the two week period in late February between the date that pitchers and catchers report to camp and the start of Grapefruit League action. Everybody is hungry for baseball. Fans are malnourished from the four months that the game has been absent from their lives. Instead of feeding us meat and potatoes, the journalists that cover the sport throw us gumdrops and candy bars. The coverage of the Pirates this Spring has been especially annoying. I think the beat writers that cover the team were actually sent to Shangri-La instead of Bradenton, FL.
 
The saccharine reports from the first days of Spring Training almost always start with the “Best Shape Of His Career” report. This year that designation belongs to Gaby Sanchez. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review seems to have a particularly strong crush on Sanchez this spring. Nearly everyday Rob has something in his notes about Gaby Sanchez while also reminding us that Gaby is in the best shape of his life. The Sanchez stories have really been in overdrive this Spring. He might be the full time 1B, could be a replacement at 3B if Pedro Alvarez were to get injured, and don’t laugh, but according to Biertempfel Gaby might even be a threat to steal some bases this year. I sent Biertempfel an email to confirm whether or not Gaby Sanchez also farts rainbows. So far no response to that, but Rob has confirmed that Jordy Mercer is excited to become team’s everyday shortstop. What would be a real story is if Mercer wasn’t excited.
 
Other sugary sweet feel good stories include reports from PiratesProspects.com that Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte have become the three amigos. Yes, it is true, the soon to be best outfield ever assembled actually takes batting practice together. PiratesProspects.com also provides some rationale for why it is a good thing that a 26 year old prospect that was the 4th overall draft pick in the 2009 draft will start another season in AAA. Despite Tony Sanchez‘s long slow journey to the majors we shouldn’t be worried about his desire though. The Bradenton Herald is reporting that Tony Twitter is hungrier than ever after getting his first taste of the big leagues last season.
 
I can’t fault the media for all this sappy horse crap. They have to write something, and people are ready for baseball. It is actually a good thing that these are the stories we are inundated with. The only real important news in the early days of Spring Training are injuries. So far the Bucs have been healthy this Spring. All that leaves is this feel good nonsense that makes me gag. The good news is that with Grapefruit League action commencing today there will be some real news to report. Thank god it is time to actually play ball!
 

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas For a Pittsburgh Pirate

As Santa Hurdle checks his list for who was “Naughty” or “Nice” he’ll find that most of the Pittsburgh Pirates will go in the “Nice” column. These guys deserve a great gift. But what is a good gift for a player, coach, or executive in the Pirates organization? Here are a few last minute gift ideas that I’ve come up with.
 

      Andrew McCutchen: Cutch already has an NL MVP award, two Silver Slugger awards, and a Gold Glove award and he just turned 27 years old. Where is he going to put all this stuff? With all the hardware he has been collecting lately I think a great gift would be a new trophy case.
      Starling Marte: Marte seems to be in an ownership dispute with NL pitchers over the inner half of home plate. He likes to hug the dish while pitchers like to paint the inner corner. The result is a lot of baseballs leaving a mark on Starling Marte. Last year he was hit 24 times with pitches. This offseason in the Dominican Winter League Marte was plunked in his first two games. It is only a matter of time before he takes a pitch off his hand that will land him on the DL. This guy needs some protection. So I think a great gift for Starling Marte would be the Shock Doctor Ultra Batter’s Hand/Wrist Guard.
      Russell Martin: Martin got his gift early when Major League Baseball banned home plate collisions. Enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that you will never get trucked at home plate again, Russell.
      Owner Bob Nutting: Bob nearly had a coronary when Pirates’ President Frank Coonelly either slipped or erred in stating that the Pirates’ local TV contract was significantly greater than being reported. In fact, Coonelly said the Pirates deal with ROOT Sports was in the top half of league revenues for local television contracts. Of course this inevitability led to questioning why the payroll is still so low. The Pirates may have a really great front office team, but they sure do say a lot of dumb stuff to the media. I bet Nutting would like to muzzle those guys sometimes, so that seems like a great gift for Bob. I’d suggest a good leather dog muzzle. They look badass, kind of like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.
      Jeff Locke: Jeff has really had a rough last few months. He had a terrible second half of the season. He was so bad he lost his spot in the rotation and was left off the postseason roster. Now it looks like his best buddy A.J. Burnett is going to retire and won’t be back with the Pirates next season. Jeff Locke sure could use a new buddy. Maybe Santa Hurdle can bring him this classic.

 

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