Pittsburgh Pirates: How Will The Outfield Shape Up Next Season?
Gregory Polanco must be a huge Katy Perry fan because his 2016 season was pretty hot and cold. The fact that he was moderately inconsistent is a bit striking, though, seeing as he still finished off the season with some pretty nice stats. He ended with 22 home runs, 86 RBIs, 17 stolen bases, a .463 slugging percentage, and a .786 OPS.
Honestly, though, it really seems like the sky is the limit for Polanco. At just 25 years of age, he has not touched his peak yet and still has a few years before he’ll get to that point. The kid’s swing is effortless. I was at PNC Park on June 4, 2016, when Polanco whacked a Fernando Salas changeup off of the Allegheny Health Network advertising board above the Clemente Wall in right field. It legitimately looked like he gave up on hitting the pitch halfway through his swing. That’s how smooth the swing was.
If he can keep working on his plate discipline (119 strikeouts in 2016), Polanco could be a deadly weapon for the Buccos for seasons to come. It doesn’t help that of the 28 times Polanco struck out looking last season, 21 of those pitches were outside of the strike zone. Yikes.
The Dominican youngster’s most pressing issue going into Spring Training could be on the defensive side of the game. Just as he was starting to master the unpredictability of the Clemente Wall, he might get moved to left field. If that’s the route Clint Hurdle decides to go down (please be the route he decides to go down), I hope Polanco embraces his new role. Moving to a new position can be hard, but I’m sure Polanco’s talent can carry him as long as his attitude follows.
We might even be able to see a big season out of Polanco in 2017.