Andrew Lambo may be facing career defining 2015 season
It would appear as though Andrew Lambo has nothing left to prove at the AAA level. Although his overall numbers at AAA, as Lambo has produced a .267/.336/.495 batting line with 32 home runs over parts of three seasons, he torched the International League last year. In 61 games, Lambo posted a .328/.389/.563 batting line with 11 home runs and 19 doubles. In that half season, Lambo may have put to rest any questions about whether or not he can hit at the AAA level.
However, those concerns still exist at the major league level. While Lambo has not had an extended chance in Pittsburgh, he has not exactly warranted one with his performance either. In his 72 major league plate appearances, Lambo has posted a .246/.278/.377 batting line, hitting one home run and six doubles. However, the biggest cause for concern may be his strikeout rate, as Lambo has struck out 19 times against only three walks.
With most prospects, that limited success at the major league level would not be a concern. However, Andrew Lambo is already 26 years old, and will be turning 27 this season. If there is a hypothetical prime for Lambo, he is just about to enter it. Or, at least, so it would seem.
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The biggest key for Lambo to begin to replicate his minor league performance may be as simple as just making more contact. In that small sample size, Lambo has a 28% line drive rate and a .327 batting average on balls in play, showing that he is hitting the ball hard when he does make put the bat on the ball. However, that has been a problem, given his 26.4% strikeout rate and mere 4.2% walk rate.
Perhaps the best approach for Andrew Lambo would be to be less aggressive in his approach at the plate. Last season, Lambo saw only 3.53 pitches per plate appearance, as he went up to the plate hacking. Taking more pitches, while continuing to aggressively attack any possible mistakes made by the opposing pitcher, could lead to a true breakout at the plate.
The opportunity certainly appears to be there for Lambo to make an impact this season. The trade of Travis Snider opened a spot for a fourth outfielder. Neither Pedro Alvarez nor Corey Hart are exactly given at first. Lambo, with a hot start and a solid approach at the plate, could find himself with close to an every day spot in the lineup.
However, the pressure may be on Andrew Lambo to prove he belongs in the majors at this point. The annuls of baseball history are littered with players who could produce at the AAA level, yet could not replicate that success in the majors. At 26 years old, Lambo may not be on his final chance to prove that he can be a major league ballplayer, but those opportunities may be decreasing soon.
The 2015 season will be a fascinating one for Andrew Lambo. If he can perform in Spring Training and in the early part of the season, he could be a solid piece for the Pirates. Otherwise, if Lambo once again struggles, he could find himself staring at being labelled a AAAA player.
Next: Jeff Locke - the forgotten member of the Pirates rotation