Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is doing everything he can to bring his team out of its slump in 2014.
The Pirates have started their season with a 10-18 record through their first 28 games. The offensive production Pittsburgh is getting has been subpar, as their team batting average of just .225 through the first 28 games is ranked 27th in the major leagues.
Now, Hurdle is shaking up the lineup in an effort to awaken the bats and turn his team's season around.
First baseman Ike Davis was penciled in as the No. 2 hitter prior to the team's matchup with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. It was the first time he had ever batted second in the lineup, which just goes to show that Hurdle is attempting just about anything right now.
According to Jeff Seidel of MLB.com, Hurdle responded to the question about his reasoning behind putting Davis in the two-hole by saying "I like the way the lineup sets up. It's about a guy that can drive in a run from first base and a guy that can get on base in front of [Andrew] McCutchen."
The root of the problem in the lineup starts at the very top with Starling Marte, who has been awful so far in 2014. He is currently tied for second in the league with 38 strikeouts in 28 games played.
Marte's batting average has decreased from .280 in 2013 to only .241 so far in 2014. His .325 on-base percentage will not cut it as a lead-off batter, especially if his team hopes to have success moving forward.
Hurdle tried mixing things up by moving Marte down to the very bottom of the order in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 25. Since then, Marte has returned to the leadoff spot, batting first in the lineup in 27 of Pittsburgh's first 28 games in 2014.
Marte has collected just six hits in his last 32 at-bats, so removing him from the leadoff spot for longer than just one game may be a smart choice.
The Pirates need more production from the very top of the order so Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez will have more runners to drive in. If they can find more production there, there's no reason the Pirates won't be able to perform as they did in 2013.
There is a reason that Clint Hurdle was named the 2013 National League Manager of the Year, and that is because of his ability to create lineups and field a winning team. He is getting back at it again in 2014, making the adjustments in the lineup he feels are necessary for the team to get better.
We will likely to see adjustments taking place as the Pirates try to straighten out their season and make it back to the postseason for the second straight year.
If those adjustments work out in Pittsburgh's favor, expect the Pirates to be in the hunt for the playoffs as the regular season winds down.
Statistics Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
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