Before I move onto more thorough posts regarding the trade deadline and third order winning percentage, I am going to mention a few smaller things that bother me about the Pirates right now.
Smaller Thing Number One: Clint Barmes’ Playing Time
I love Clint Barmes’ defense. I really do. I think that he provides premium defense at a tough and important position. I also think that his defense is under-appreciated because it relies heavily on good positioning. However, even if Barmes has been the fourth-best defensive shortstop in the major leagues this year (which he is per FanGraphs) his hitting has been so bad that he has still provided no value. He has produced exactly 0.0 WAR despite having the fourth most plate appearances of any Pittsburgh Pirate.
I understand that Jordy Mercer may be worse. But we can’t know that unless the kid plays. Personally, I think that benching a replacement player is an acceptable loss to take on in finding out what Mercer is. Instead, he has gotten all of 25 plate appearances (in which time he has been credited with 0.3 WAR, or infinitely more than Clint Barmes). It drives me crazy.
Smaller Thing Number Two: Bullpen Management
In the bottom of the eighth inning tonight, both Joel Hanrahan and Chad Qualls were warming up in the Pirates’ bullpen. After the fourth run crossed the plate, eliminating the save opportunity, Hanrahan sat down and Qualls would come on to pitch the ninth inning. The Pirates’ win expectancy stood at 98.8% at the start of the ninth inning. This seems to support the use of a lower quality reliever, like Qualls, but in a three run game (source: this game) the Pirates’ win expectancy would have been 97.4%. This would also support using a lesser quality reliever. In short, the closer role leads to manager stupidity.
Smaller Thing Number Three: Smart vs. Exciting
Andrew McCutchen. Need I say more? It’s more fun to watch play baseball hard than to watch him play it smart. He should have been out at second tonight. He absolutely should have stayed at first. But it would be impossible to argue that his actions made tonight’s game much more exciting (it helps that it led to a win as well).