John Jaso The Pinch Hitter
Left-handed hitting John Jaso has had an up and down season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, one role he has excelled in is pinch hitting.
In December the Pittsburgh Pirates inked John Jaso to a two-year contract. Jaso’s contract was worth a total of eight million dollars. Even though Jaso was a catcher and a designated hitter for the entirety of his career, the Pirates signed him to play first base.
When John Jaso was signed where he would fit in at in the Pirates’ lineup was unclear. However, this quickly became clear in Spring Training. For most of the season John Jaso was the Pirates’ lead off man against right-handed pitchers.
John Jaso started to struggle in mid-June and his struggles would continue through the month of July.. While Jaso was struggling, first base prospect Josh Bell was knocking the cover off the ball at Triple-A. Due to this, Bell has since supplanted Jaso as the Pirates’ starting first baseman.
Through his first 377 plat appearances this season Jaso has been a slightly above league average hitter. Jaso is slashing .265/.348/.386/.734 this season with a 10.1 percent walk rate, .324 wOBA, and a 103 wRC+. However, where Jaso has been most successful this season is as a pinch hitter.
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The majority of John Jaso’s plate appearances as a pinch hitter have come since being demoted from his starting role. Some players would have developed a poor attitude or complained in this situation. Jaso, however, has excelled in this role.
As a pinch hitter this season John Jaso owns a .368/.400/.421/.821 slugging percentage. This includes a .360 wOBA and a wRC+ of 128. Even though this is over the course of just 20 plate appearance, it is still an encouraging sign.
Pinch hitting is one of the most difficult things to do in all of baseball. And, so far, John Jaso has been very good at it. This is a trait that can be especially beneficial for a player in the National League.
This offseason the Pirates will lose their best pinch hitter. That is because outfielder Matt Joyce will be a free agent. And, due to the season he has had in 2016, Joyce is almost assuredly going to have the opportunity to sign with a team as an everyday player this offseason.
This means the Pirates will need a new go to pinch hitter for the 2017 season. In my opinion, John Jaso can be this player. Especially against right-handed pitching. This is due to the fact that Jaso has always hit right-handed pitching well throughout his Major League career, and 2016 has been no different.
This season Jaso owns a .277/.358/.402/.760 slash line, .334 wOBA, and a 110 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Jaso also has a 14.3 percent walk rate and just a 15.9 percent strikeout rate against right-handed pitching this season. So in short, Jaso has hit right-handed pitching very well this season.
As I said above, Jaso has always hit right-handed pitching well. In his career Jaso owns a .274/.366/.424/.790 slash line against right-handed pitching. This includes a 12.0 percent walk rate, 14.2 percent strikeout rate, .349 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 124.
I truly believe John Jaso can be a real threat for the Pirates as a pinch hitter. Honestly, he already has been. And I expect this continue through the rest of the 2016 season and then into the 2017 season.
Moving forward, John Jaso has a spot on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bench. Looking ahead to the 2017 season the Pirates will have a strong bench due to players such as Adam Frazier and Chris Stewart. Jaso will help to make the Pirates’ bench strong, too.