Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

SCOUTING THE GAME [Derived Headline]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

SCOUTING THE GAME [Derived Headline]

Article excerpt

Post-Gazette writer Bill Brink compares the Pirates and Cubs in seven key areas:

BATTING

The Pirates have four active players who hit double-digit home runs but only one -- Andrew McCutchen -- with an OPS better than .800. Francisco Cervelli hit .295 with a .370 OBP. Josh Harrison (thumb) has fully recovered, hitting .364 with a .916 OPS in the past 30 days. After Starlin Castro was moved to second base in mid- August, he finished hitting .353/.373/.588 in his final 47 games. Anthony Rizzo led the Cubs with 31 homers and a .387 OBP. The teams are close, but the Cubs got double-digit home runs from nine regulars, which could decide a close game.

EDGE: CUBS

INFIELD

The Pirates defense regressed, in part because of Pedro Alvarez, who committed more errors than anyone except Marcus Semien and Ian Desmond this season. He was worth minus-14 Defensive Runs Saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions. The return of Jordy Mercer as the everyday shortstop has helped. The Cubs have one of the best fielding shortstops in 21-year-old Addison Russell (19 DRS), and Rizzo and Kris Bryant are above average. Only Castro rates as below average. The Cubs turned almost 2 percent more balls in play into outs than the Pirates did.

EDGE: CUBS

OUTFIELD

Starling Marte is a Gold Glove candidate in left, with enough speed to get to balls in the gap or on the line and the strongest arm on the team. Gregory Polanco has committed silly errors, usually involving getting balls on the ground, but his arm strength and accuracy have improved and he was worth 12 DRS. McCutchen, who has the weakest arm of the three yet often allows two runners to advance because he throws to third instead of second, finished at minus-8 DRS, ahead of only Alvarez on the team. All four outfielders the Cubs play regularly are average or worse.

EDGE: PIRATES

CATCHING

Francisco Cervelli has had an excellent season calling games and blocking balls, and his pitch-framing skill benefited the Pirates' pitching staff. But he threw out only 22 percent of runners attempting to steal. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, also a strong defender, was no better with the running game, throwing out only 20 percent of runners. …

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