Skip to content

Top-of-the-order struggles doom Pirates in NLDS

Oct 9, 2013, 11:16 PM EDT

Division Series - Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five Getty Images

It was the bats that failed the Pirates in the end. Starling Marte finished the NLDS 1-for-19 with one walk and a hit by pitch from the leadoff spot. Neil Walker, right behind him batting second, was 0-for-19 with two walks.

It’s tough to generate much offense when your top two hitters reach base a total of five times in five games.

Batting third, likely NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was 5-for-17 in the NLDS, but he never drove in a run. He hardly the chance. Justin Morneau also had five hits without an RBI. The Pirates’ fifth, sixth and seventh hitters did the damage, with Marlon Byrd, Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin combining to drive in 13 of the Pirates’ 15 runs in the series.

There’s not really a whole lot the Pirates can take from this. The top two spots in the order weren’t problem areas this year. Despite his lousy walk rate, Marte had a .336 OBP while batting first and was 39-for-51 stealing bases, helping him scored 83 runs in 124 games.

Walker, ideally, is probably more of a No. 6 hitter, but his .256/.330/.477 line batting second is still a big improvement over the NL’s .262/.318/.392 line as a whole.

The Pirates will have to decide this winter whether to re-sign Morneau, Byrd and shortstop Clint Barmes or at least similar veteran facsimiles. They have Jose Tabata as a fallback right fielder, and he very quietly hit .282/.342/.429 in his 308 at-bats this year. They also have Jordy Mercer as a candidate to take over at shortstop. First base is the bigger problem area, and unless they want to shift Alvarez across the diamond (which doesn’t seem at all likely), they should add a free agent there, preferably one better than Morneau. Garrett Jones should be non-tendered.

The rest of the lineup will be back. McCutchen is under control through 2018. Walker and Alvarez are candidates for long-term deals. The Pirates should have plenty of flexibility this winter, what with A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Barmes and Jones coming off the books and a likely attendance boost on the way in 2014. There’s no reason they can’t add a big free agent to their already potent mix.

Latest Posts
  1. Wrigley Field will still be a work in progress, but it will be ready for Opening Day

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Wrigley construction Getty Images

    So don’t listen to the rumors about how it’s not fit for man nor beast nor Cubs fan.

  2. HBT Extra: Talkin’ about the NL Central

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:37 AM EDT

    Mike Matheny Getty Images

    The Cardinals and Pirates are the class here, even if the Cubs get all the chatter these days.

  3. Coco Crisp likely to open season on 15-day disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:58 PM EDT

    coco crisp getty Getty Images

    A’s left fielder Coco Crisp has been bothered by discomfort in the middle of his right arm for much of spring training, limiting him to seven Cactus League games. And the injury isn’t getting any better.

  4. 2015 Preview: Cincinnati Reds

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:02 PM EDT

    votto getty Getty Images

    Is the fun over in Cincy?

  5. Rays get Erasmo Ramirez from M’s for Mike Montgomery

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    erasmo ramirez getty Getty Images

    As first reported by beat writer Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays have acquired right-handed starter Erasmo Ramirez from the Mariners in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery.

  6. Luke Gregerson officially named Astros’ closer

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:40 PM EDT

    gregerson getty Getty Images

    Gregerson figured to get the job after signing a three-year, $18.5 million free agent contract with Houston in early December and he pitched well enough this spring to fend off any potential competition.

  7. Roberto Osuna makes Blue Jays’ bullpen, will be youngest pitcher in franchise history

    Mar 31, 2015, 8:36 PM EDT

    osuna getty Getty Images

    The 20-year-old right-hander announced the news on his Twitter account Tuesday …

  8. Ken Giles exits Grapefruit League game with back pain

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

    ken giles getty Getty Images

    Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com shares the news …

  9. Adam Wainwright named Cardinals’ Opening Night starter

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    wainwirght getty Getty Images

    Adam Wainwright tossed a spring-high 93 pitches in a Grapefruit League appearance Tuesday afternoon against the Marlins and was officially declared the Cardinals’ Opening Night starter after the outing by manager Mike Matheny.

  10. Jose Mijares suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    jose mijares getty Getty Images

    Lefties never die. But Mijares is going to have a harder time now.

  11. 2015 Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Kevin Cash

    Why is this man smiling when his team appears to be destined for last place?

  12. HBT Extra: Talkin’ about the National League West

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:02 PM EDT

    Paul Sancya -- Associated Press AP

    WIll this man be smiling in October?

  13. Endy Chavez opts out of contract, released by Mariners

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT

    Endy Chavez Getty Images

    Chavez appeared in 80 games for the Mariners last season.

  14. Justin Verlander could start the season on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Justin Verlander Justin Verlander

    It’s supposedly just an arm cramp, but Brad Ausmus isn’t ruling out the DL.

  15. Chris Tillman named Opening Day starter by Orioles

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    tillman getty Getty Images

    Tillman also started on Opening Day for the Orioles last season.

  16. Baseball is working to get Spanish-speaking interpreters for every team

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.08.20 PM

    A long-overdue measure will, apparently, soon be in place.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Fernandez (4845)
  2. C. Rodon (4206)
  3. Y. Tomas (4040)
  4. A. Rendon (3874)
  5. K. Jansen (3816)
  1. S. Doolittle (3760)
  2. C. Martinez (3718)
  3. C. Davis (3686)
  4. K. Bryant (3679)
  5. J. Verlander (3635)