Pittsburgh Pirates: Left Field
Congratulations to the Denver Broncos! Now that the football season is over, we can really start to focus on baseball. I discussed Andrew McCutchen and center field position in my last post. I want to examine the left field position for the Pirates and the rest of the National League Central.
Pittsburgh is said to have the best outfield in baseball with Starling Marte has had two really good seasons in left field.
Manager Clint Hurdle has struggled to find Marte’s exact spot in the batting order, but he has power, speed, and athleticism. Marte can cover a lot of ground in left field and only committed four errors last season. He had an incredible 32 outfield assists and has a huge arm to throw almost anybody out.
Offensively, he continues to improve with home runs, RBIs and doubles. His average has stayed consistently around .280. Marte has been a huge part in the success of this team. Honestly the entire outfield has to lead this team throughout this season and they have the capabilities and skills to do so.
In terms of depth, Pittsburgh has numerous players who can play left field. Sean Rodriguez would be the person that first come to mind. He can play anywhere on the field but is a good left field option.
The pickup of John Jaso I think will pay dividends for Pittsburgh too. Jaso is a flexible guy, but I don’t know if Hurdle will trust him in left or right. Jaso was brought on to play a majority of first base, but you never know what might happen. I would think even Jake Goebbert could see time in left field.
With Josh Harrison taking over most of the infield duties, I am doubtful he will play in either outfield position. I think he is the best backup option with his speed, experience, and offense, but I think it is too risky. Jay Hay is too valuable now in the infield and they wouldn’t want to risk anything happening to him.
The other teams in the division have good left fielders too.
Khris Davis will get the start for the Brewers. He has a lot of power and hit 27 homers last season. He did commit 10 errors defensively while playing both center and left field which were the most of his career. Milwaukee has some depth but Keon Braxton has the chance to play. If we all remember Braxton was traded from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee for Jason Rogers.
Since the Reds have moved on past the Ryan Ludwick days, they are stuck with some inexperienced players. Adam Duvall has the starting job for the Reds in left field. and he has only played one season where he hit for .209 average with 5 home runs and 9 RB’s. I don’t look for the Reds to be too productive with anybody who may play left field for them.
St. Louis will be anchored by Matt Holliday. Holliday had a bad year last year, but he was fighting off numerous injuries. I have read that a lot of people expect Holliday to have a huge year. He has proven the past that he can hit 3rd in the Cardinals lineup and be productive. St. Louis has the best depth at this position in the entire central division. Steve Piscotty, Brandon Moss and Randal Grichuk are all capable of playing left field. They all have a lot of experience and should be a big asset to the Cardinals.
Chicago has turned into the team to beat. Look for Kyle Schwarber to hold down left field. I will never forget that bomb he hit against Cole in the Wild Card game. Schwarber has a ton of power and really can make or break any game.
The last thing to focus on is speed. Starling Marte can run fast. I really want to see Marte steal more bases. If they would choose to play small ball, I would be ok with that. We have seen numerous times when Marte will bunt or attempt to bunt and beat it out for a single. Hopefully, he is more focused on using his legs this season. It could play a huge rule moving forward for the Pirates. All the other left fielders in this division have speed but nothing like Marte.
The season is nearing and my excitement level is on the roof!