Pittsburgh Pirates show glimpses of offensive firepower
The Pittsburgh Pirates gave us a glimpse of what their offense could be in 2015. To be more accurate, it showed us a preview of what some major pieces could contribute to one of the game’s up-and-coming offenses. Without mainstays Josh Harrison, Neil Walker, and Andrew McCutchen, the offense still managed to flex its muscle and send some spring cannonballs out of the yard.
But I’m not here to talk specifically about Pedro Alvarez‘s opposite-field shot. Or Jeong-ho Kang looking so comfortable at the plate he could have called in a Chipotle order from the box. I’m not talking about competent contributions from the likes of previously-incompetent Jaff Decker. Those things gave me just as much joy as the next Pittsburgh Pirates fan. In the end, however, I find myself getting more excited when I think about the solutions that great starts from some of these guys present for the Pirates’ few problems.
Take Alvarez for example. Previously, I had opined that our collective attention would be paid squarely on Pedro Alvarez in this game, and he did not disappoint, launching an opposite field shot and playing good, if not spectacular, at first in only his sixth actual game at the position. What excites me most about the possibility of a good spring for Pedro is that it could potentially give the Pirates a very steady presence at the number five position in the everyday batting order, assuming Walker has fourth locked down. A productive Alvarez at number five can present many problems for opposing pitchers, as they would go Right-Switch-Left with Cutch, Walker, and Alvarez in the 3-4-5 slots. The thought of this is really exciting, as it can keep a lot of pitchers off balance, especially against righty-dominant rotations such as the St. Louis Cardinals.
On the other side of today’s coin was Kang. Simply put, I was more impressed by his comfort in the box against American big-league pitching than the home run (though I will take that too.) There was talk around Pittsburgh the past few weeks of Kang not quite hitting it off with his teammates in the early parts of spring. Just like it does with fans, Kang’s ability to pass the ever-mysterious “eye test” may just possibly resonate with the rest of the Pirates as well. Looking back on-the-field, Kang’s display on Tuesday shows that he may not need as much time to catch up to MLB-level pitchers as previously thought.
All of this and I haven’t even mentioned Gregory Polanco or Starling Marte, both of which looked to be ready for a great spring as well. On Wednesday we will presumably see the other half of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and if today is indication, tomorrow will be full of answers and reassurance, and devoid of question and doubt.