Bob Smizik: Report card time

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Presenting the 100-Games-To-Go Report Card on Pirates Position Players. Grades are based on expectations and production. For example, if Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen have the same numbers, Tabata gets the higher grade.

Pedro Alvarez: At this time last year (62 games), he had 13 home runs and 34 RBIs with a .702 OPS. This season those numbers are 11, 35 and .722. That’s pretty much a wash. But there was reason to expect more improvement. That it hasn’t come is troubling for the Pirates. Grade: C-

Clint Barmes: He might be a step slower in the field, but he still looks good at shortstop, although a bit more error prone. His bat remains anemic. Grade: C

Ike Davis: For the first three weeks in May he looked like the answer -- Garrett Jones of 2012. Since then he looks like, uh, Garrett Jones of 2013. It’s still early on Davis, but his lack of power is alarming. The Pirates need more than a lot of walks from their left-handed hitting first baseman. Grace: C

Starling Marte: What more needs to be said than this: .239/.307/.370 -- .676. Or this: A 28 percent strikeout rate. Or this: Eight walks. Easily the team’s biggest disappointment. Grade: F

Russell Martin: Those still living in the past and clinging to batting average as an important stat won’t get it about Martin’s offensive contributions. His batting average is .260. But his on-base percentage is .405, a hard-to-believe difference for a player who’s neither a big bopper nor a pesky leadoff type. His OBP is sixth-best in the NL, behind Troy Tulowitzki, Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, Adam LaRoche and Joey Votto. Everyone understands his defensive contributions. Grade: A

Jordy Mercer: He’s added 100 points to his OPS since May 28. But it’s what he did for the seven weeks before May 28 that weigh most heavily on his season. The Pirates have gone from thinking they might have a shortstop of the future to being less sure about that. His glove has been satisfactory. Grade: D

Josh Harrison: His contributions have been beyond the expectations of everyone, including himself. The case could be made he’s been the team MVP. No question, the Pirates have been a much better team with him in the lineup. He is second to McCutchen in OPS, third to Gaby Sanchez and McCutchen in slugging. Grade: A+

Andrew McCutchen: Among NL center fielders, only Carlos Gomez is having a better season. But the MVP is expected to be second to no one. His batting average, slugging percentage and OPS are in decline for the second straight season after his monster 2012. In fairness, some of that is because he’s being pitched around so much this season. Grade: B+

Gaby Sanchez: Although most of his at bats have been against right-handed pitching, where he traditionally struggles, Sanchez leads the Pirates in slugging against all pitching and is third in OPS. His slugging vs. RHP is 57 points higher than Davis’. Grade: A

Tony Sanchez: In his brief time with the Pirates, he made clear the importance of bringing back Martin in 2015. His throwing is well below MLB standards and his defense is ordinary, at best. Nor should his .691 OPS raise excitement. Grade: D

Travis Snider: He’s turned into one of the NL’s best pinch-hitters. In that role, his line in 23 at-bats is .348/.464/.478 -- .942. But in his other role, as an outfielder, this is his line in 94 at-bats: .191/.276/.277 -- .553. In those 94 at-bats, he has three extra-base hits. Grade: D-

Chris Stewart: His defense was said to be impeccable but two errors and three passed balls indicate otherwise. His bat was said to be weak. They got that right. Grade: C-

Jose Tabata: Tabata has a .295 batting average, which is another example of how out-of-date and uninformative that statistic is. More telling of Tabata’s contributions are his .344 slugging percentage and his .680 OPS. If he were a slick-fielding shortstop, those numbers might be acceptable. But he’s a corner outfielder. He has fve extra-base hits in 131 at-bats and one stolen base. Grade: D

Neil Walker: He leads all NL second basemen with 11 homers and 35 RBIs and his .805 OPS is second only to Chase Utley. Walker is on his way to the All-Star Game and an eight-figure contract in 2015. And maybe out of Pittsburgh. Grade: A


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