The Pittsburgh Pirates Have a Huge Error Problem

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It's been a little while since I've written an article about the Pittsburgh Pirates because frankly, I've been frustrated with their play.  It seems like every time I've been able to watch a game recently, I've found myself turning it off within the first few innings because the opposition seemingly always gets out to a big lead.  The lack of hitting and poor pitching has made them unwatchable at times.  We've seen a response from management to these crushing defeats by calling up some hopeful prospects, which also has me hopeful that things may turn around.  However, if the Pirates continue to commit errors at the rate they have been, I'm not so sure that will be the case.

As of this writing, the Pirates lead the Major Leagues in errors committed with 36.  This is just a season removed from when they had the second-fewest in all of baseball with 70.  They're already halfway to last season's total in just a quarter of the 2022 season.  Yes, you're reading that right.  The 2022 Pirates have committed 36 errors in 42 games, averaging almost one per game.  It's almost incomprehensible when you consider how efficient they were in the field last year.

The issue isn't solely with the errors themselves.  It also comes with how they always seem to come at inopportune times.  Just last night, with a 1-0 lead in the 8th inning, shortstop Rodolfo Castro committed an error that allowed the leadoff baserunner, former Pirates backstop Elias Diaz, to get on base.  He would eventually score to tie the game 1-1, and the Pirates would go on to lose 2-1 in extra innings.  It's errors like these that can be so devastating to a team's season.

Now I must mention, there are two major differences in the field from last season that are aiding this problem.  Gold Glove winning catcher Jacob Stallings was traded to the Miami Marlins in the offseason and Gold Glove finalist shortstop Kevin Newman has missed the majority of the season due to injury.  Taking two top fielders out of your lineup will certainly decrease your team's fielding percentages.

However, that is no excuse for how bad this team has been fielding so far this season.  We're talking about a true fundamental of the game here.  For a team with the roster construction that the Pirates have compared to the rest of the league, they can't afford to be giving outs away each and every game.  

In games the Pirates do manage to win, they are going to be winning most of them in a grind-it-out fashion.  With the hitting struggles I've already mentioned, we aren't going to see them blow too many teams out.  Therefore, every single run matters.  And when they're giving them away at the clip they currently are, you're just digging yourself into a deeper hole.

While I would love to point fingers at individual players *cough* Rodolfo Castro *cough*, this simply comes down to coaching.  As a ballplayer, you're taught from the very start the fundamentals of fielding.  And clearly, we know this team is capable of fielding well since they did it last season.  To me, it comes off as a lack of team discipline, and that starts with the coaching staff.  I know there are a lot of people in the media coming at manager Derek Shelton for a variety of things right now.  And while I do find myself more on the side of giving him a chance still considering what he has to work with, I can't give him a pass for all of the fielding miscues.

For something as controllable as making the simple plays in the field, I have a hard time wrapping my head around just how poor the Pirates have been.  Anymore, it seems like with any ground ball hit, I find myself hoping it won't be botched and that should never be the case with a Major League Baseball team.  Antonio Wolfe and myself touched more on this on this week's Saved By the Ball podcast, so be sure to check that out if you'd like to hear this covered more in-depth.  All I can say for now is, the Pirates' play in the field better change quickly, or this team will find themselves at the bottom of the National League even quicker than we thought was possible when the season started. 
 

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