Improved plate discipline lifting Bucs' OBP

Improved plate discipline lifting Bucs' OBP

Improved plate discipline lifting Bucs' OBP

DENVER -- For a Pirates lineup that ranks in the middle of the National League or lower in most offensive categories, walks have been an essential ingredient to becoming one of the best clubs in baseball.

A keen eye in the batter's box appears to be one of the keys to producing enough runs for victory behind the best starting rotation in the Majors. The Pirates' on-base percentage and walks gradually increased in June and July, and the team is on pace for equally strong numbers in August.

The first steps forward came in June, when the Pirates' OBP climbed from .298 to .312 and drew five more walks (74) than in May. In July, their OBP jumped to .321 with 82 walks, and through seven games in August, that OBP was up to .336. Though the Pirates' OBP this year (.312) puts them eighth in the NL, their average OBP over the last three months would rank fourth.

It is a statistical climb that Hurdle said was due to more than pure coincidence.

"I think it's a conscious effort of just having better discipline at the plate and being calmer, not being in quick strike mode, not trying to jump a fastball," Hurdle said. "Just trying to hit one, trying to have the best at-bat they can for the team. Our numbers are still somewhat pedestrian, but they are improving and ramping up."

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.