The Pirates have become one of my favorite teams for whatever reason but this thing could get ugly. This roster has gotten rid of players like Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows since the beginning of last season and it’s left this roster looking like a dumpster fire. That doesn’t even take into consideration that Jameson Taillon is injured too, leaving the Buccos in big trouble. I’m sorry Greg Brown but that Jolly Roger is going to stay put a ton this season.
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2019 Pirates Recap
Runs Scored: 758 I21st)
Runs Allowed: 911 (27th)
Stolen Bases: 64 (19th)
ERA: 5.18 (26th)
WHIP: 1.46 (25th)
Saves: 31 (27th)
2020 Win Total Projection: 69.5 wins
Youth and Left-Handed Hitting
It’s pretty clear that the Pirates are in the midst of a rebuild and there’s honestly not much in terms of strengths. They’ve gotten rid of pretty much every high-priced player they own and it’s left them with one of the youngest rosters in baseball. In fact, no player in the Top-7 in the order was above the age of 28 until the Jarrod Dyson signing a few weeks ago. That means there’s some serious room for growth on this team and they could have one or two potential breakouts in their lineup.
With that said, this could be the worst lineup in baseball against left-handed pitching. Kevin Newman is really their only good option from the right side, despite the fact that Josh Bell and Bryan Reynolds are switch-hitters. Both of those guys have OPS’ nearly 200 points higher against righties though and it appears that this team is going all-in on lefty bats. That should make them a threat anytime they face a right-hander, but a must-fade whenever they face a lefty.
This is a very bad Pirates team. The lineup is weak and the rotation is nothing to write home about. The only bit of good news is that there’s some young talent to get excited about but they’d need full-on breakouts from Gregory Polanco, Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman if they are to even be a competitive team. They’d also need bounce-back years from Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer atop the rotation too and that seems like a lot to ask. We already mentioned this in their strengths section too but this could be the worst lineup in the league against southpaws. There’s only one good hitter from the right side in this lineup and it’s going to allow left-handed pitchers to feast on them all season long. If you can stream a lefty against them, DO IT!
Mitch Keller (SP)
I was so tempted to write up Gregory Polanco because I’ve always had an irrational infatuation with him but I just couldn’t justify it with the way his career is trending. That’s why I chose to go with a pitcher who posted a 7.13 ERA and 1.83 WHIP last season! Holy crap, that’s truly horrendous. In any case, this young kid has some serious talent and those unsightly numbers certainly look fishy when looking at his advanced statistics. This dude had a 3.19 FIP and 3.47 xFIP last year.
That tells us that he was arguably the most unlucky pitcher in the Majors and if he duplicates those FIP numbers, Keller could be in for a breakout season. This is a guy who never posted a FIP below 4.00 in the minors as well, and a .475 BABIP and a .314 xwOBA further shows just how unfortunate this guy was last year. I also expect guys like Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer to have better seasons and that makes them all worth a shot in drafts with how fall they’re falling in.
Kevin Newman (OF)
Josh Bell is the only Pirates player going in the Top-175, so, he was an ideal choice but Newman seems like the easy bet here. He’s actually the third-highest drafted Pirate and I truly believe that he shouldn’t be drafted at all. As a Rockies fan, I can tell you that one series in Coors Field absolutely bloated his numbers. In fact, Newman had three homers and hit .643 in that three-game series. That makes up for 25 percent of his dinger total on the season and drops his average by 10 points.
The numbers are still pretty solid outside of that but it would be hard for me to imagine him having many runs or RBI in what’s expected to be one of the worst lineups in baseball. That means he needs to hit over .300 and provide over 20 steals to redeem this price tag and that appears to be the ceiling for a guy who has a .331 OBP and 16 steals in 161 career Maor League games.
Worst team in baseball? It seems like a decent possibility and it’s easy to see why when you consider all of the bad moves the Pirates management has made over recent years. This is a club that had Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Starling Marte, Jameson Taillon, Felipe Vasquez and Tony Watson all within the last two years but none of those guys will play this year. Taillon is the only one who remains on the roster and one has to wonder how long he’ll stick around with the rebuild in full motion.
That leaves Josh Bell with a lackluster lineup around him and a rotation with Chris Archer’s 5.19 ERA up top. That lmakes this team very thin and it’s scary that they’re in a division with teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. That is why this team is an easy bet to finish last in the NL Central and is one of the best bets for the worst record in baseball. Sorry Buccos!
Thanks for these columns, great content. What do you think about Jared Oliva for this season? Does he see significant ab’s after the Dyson signing? He was my favorite sagnof target late in drafts before the pirates went and ruined everything.
I doubt it. I dont know a whole lot about him but I’m not a big fan of his hitting profile. Would probably be a bottom of the order bat if he played a lot
Thanks for this, I have Musgrove and Keller so feel a little better, didnt reach for either one so am feeling optimistic.
Yeah I think these pitchers should be fine. Thanks for reading
This team is going to be on par with Miami’s offense last year. Stream away! That payroll is a joke. It is embarrassing for MLB to allow this kind of salary purge without any intention of putting an mlb caliber roster on the field.
I couldn’t agree more