The Pirates pitched poorly in 2008

We all know that the Pirates’ pitching was terrible in 2008, and many of you may be tired of the topic by now. But if you are interested in another reminder, here it is. R.J. Anderson is doing a project over at Beyond the Box Score in which he is converting FIP into the more convenient FIP+. It is similar to OPS+ or ERA+ in that it adjusts FIP for league and park, and translates it to a scale in which 100 equals league average.

He is going around the league, providing FIP+ for every pitcher and giving a brief synopsis of each team’s performance for the season. So far, each team has generally had a reasonable split of above and below average players. The highest numbers tend to belong to dominant relievers, such as Brian Fuentes’ mark of 208. There are also some starters that posted remarkable numbers, such as Tim Lincecum’s 158. Then we come to the Pirates.

Only four of the Pirates’ 26 pitchers came in as average or above. Those four were Ty Taubenheim (127 in 6 IP), Damaso Marte (125), Matt Capps (124) and Tyler Yates (100). Yes, you read that correctly. The Pirates did not have a single regular starter with an above average FIP+ in 2008. Even Paul Maholm, who had a very good season, missed the cut at 99. Surprisingly, he was just a tad better than Zach Duke, who came in at 93. It is important as we move forward to remember that both of these pitchers rely greatly on the defense behind them, although Maholm accumulates more strikeouts and induces more groundouts. Maholm’s BABIP allowed was only .289 last season, very low considering the Pirates’ lousy defense. I would expect a minor drop-off in his 2009 performance.

Anyway, back to R.J.’s numbers. Other notable pitchers producing a below average FIP+ were Phil Dumatrait (90), Ian Snell (89), Jeff Karstens (85), Ross Ohlendorf (77), Tom Gorzelanny (64), Matt Morris (58) and John Van Benschoten (48). So far (through the NL Central and NL West), JVB easily was the worst of anyone who pitched at least ten innings. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

So there you have it. The Pirates pitchers were very, very bad in 2008. Thanks to R.J. for compiling these statistics. I am looking forward to seeing if any other teams come close to matching the Bucs’ ineptitude.

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