On off days throughout the season I will take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly wearing Pirates uniforms.
The team has three regular starters batting above .290.
A corner outfielder leads the team in RBI.
A corner infielder is leading the team in batting average.
Prior to spring training you would assume the previous statements would be describing Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche.
In actuality 17 games into the season the previous statements describe Jose Bautista, Xavier Nady, Chris Duffy and Jack Wilson.
Bautista lead the team in AVG. Nady leads the team in RBI. Both Duffy and Wilson are batting over .290.
The good from this is players other than the "stars" are performing at levels that complimentary players perform at on winning teams.
Freddy Sanchez is still struggling to find his form after missing most of spring training with a knee injury. His struggles seem to be affecting his play in the field as he is not as "steady" as we have come to expect from Freddy.
Jason Bay has started off slow. He is still performing at a decent level, but not at the All-Star level we fans are accustomed to. Part of his struggles is the lack of an offensive threat behind him in the lineup.
That lack of offensive firepower is being led by Adam LaRoche. His startling .105 AVG and excruciatingly high strikeout rate have allowed pitchers to nibble more when Bay is at bat. Until LaRoche regains his form of 2006, Bay will continue to struggle.
The other lack of offense behind Bay is Ronnie Paulino. After dominating the spring and showing some of the power expected from him, he has started the season batting .182 with a .211 OBP, actually lower than Adam LaRoche.
My fear is Ronny will only be affective batting in the 8 spot in the order similar to last season. The 8 hole hitter usually sees better pitches or draws more walks due to the pitcher being on deck. The opposing team always wants a pitcher to lead off an inning if at all possible or prefer to face the pitcher if runners are in scoring position.