Pittsburgh Pirates: Corner Infield


The last time I posted, I concentrated on the National League Central pitching comparisons.  With the Pirates trading Neil Walker and not resigning Pedro Alvarez, the infield has some holes to fill. How does the Pirates infield compare to the other National League teams?

First of all, the Pirates need a healthy Jung-ho Kang. Kang has the potential and skills to be the best third basemen in the division. I think some forget that we traded Keon Braxton to the Brewers and got Jason Rogers in return. Rogers has only played two seasons in the majors and a total of 94 games.  He has shown some signs of adding a spark but look for him to see considerable time until Kang is full healed.  With Cincinnati trading Todd Frazier, it makes the third base position much weaker in the division. We can’t forget about the stud Kris Bryant, but Jung-ho Kang has the chance to have an MVP like season. Matt Carpenter can play numerous positions for the Cardinals, but last year he solidified third base for the Cardinals. Carpenter is a very consistent leadoff hitter and plays well defensively.  The Brewers lost Aramis Ramirez to retirement, so who knows who will end up holding down third base for them.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been in trade talks all winter about first base. It is hard to find both a productive offensive and defensive first baseman in the majors. Pedro Alvarez could hit the ball, but he just made way too many mistakes. Michael Morse would be the starting first baseman for the Pirates if the season started today. I wrote in a previous article that I believe in Morse. I think he can have a productive year, but he also has a ton of pressure on him. If he doesn’t produce, fans are going to want change, and will not give him a chance. John Jaso was signed by the Pirates last month in hopes to platoon him with Morse at 1st base. Since Jaso is lefty he may end up starting a majority of the season at first base. I don’t know a lot about the guy but he has decent stats in the seven years he has played in the league.  One can only hope that Morse and Jaso together can lead to big things in helping the Pirates win some games. The NL central is stacked at first base. Anthony Rizzo is back in Chicago and he might be the best first baseman in baseball.  It will be hard to find someone who can compete with Rizzo in terms of skills, ability, and performance. Cincinnati is anchored by Joey Votto at first base. Votto has proven in the past that he can be productive and hit with a lot of power.  Last year was a hard year for the Reds, and this year it will be even harder to find the motivation to play every day. Milwaukee traded away Adam Lind to the Seattle Mariners this offseason. However, they made a nice pickup last week with signing Chris Carter. Carter was a free agent but played in his last three seasons in Houston. He compiled 234 runs batted in and hit 90 home runs. It was a great pickup for the Brewers, and he is going to help them a lot this year. St. Louis has a lot of depth at first base. Mark Reynolds is gone, but Brandon Moss came over towards the end of last year. Matt Adams is coming off a quad surgery and Stephen Piscotty can play first base too. The Cardinals are in a good spot, but I am hopeful Matt Adams is inserted back in as the everyday starter. Adams grew up 20 minutes from my hometown and I always root for him when I can.

The infield corners for the National League Central are very solid. Every team has depth in each position and it should make the division even more interesting. Chicago has the best corner infield out of any team in baseball. Bryant and Rizzo are beasts and Chicago is still the team to beat in my opinion. Pittsburgh doesn’t have great depth, but Kang can be productive. First base is Morse’s to lose but give it some time. The Pirates have great prospects in the minors and Josh Bell could work his way into a starting role by next year.  Next week I will preview the middle infield where a lot of questions still need answered. My projections are based on the depth chart as of today; a lot can still happen. They also go from highest to lowest.

Projections: (1st base)

Batting Average – Rizzo, Carter, Votto, Adams, Morse

Home Runs – Rizzo, Votto, Carter, Adams, Morse

Projections: (3rd base)

Batting Average – Carpenter, Kang, Bryant, Suarez (Reds), Villar (Brewers)

Home Runs – Bryant, Kang, Suarez, Carpenter, Villar