In a long overdue move, the Pittsburgh Pirates are re-configuring their outfield defense.
This afternoon Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates released a statement discussing the new outfield configuration. As was speculated throughout the offseason Gregory Polanco will now be in left field, Starling Marte in center field, and Andrew McCutchen in right field.
Defensively, this is the team’s best defensive outfield. This is a move that should have been made prior to the start of the 2016 season. But after the 2016 season, it became a necessity.
Andrew McCutchen was the worst defensive center fielder in all of Major League Baseball in 2016. His -28 defensive runs saved (DRS) was by far the worst among Major League center fielders. He simply is no longer capable of playing center field, especially on team where he is the third best center fielder.
Starling Marte is one of the best defensive players in all of baseball, regardless of position. I would expect this to continue in 2017 even with him now manning center field. I would not be surprised to see him win his third consecutive Gold Glove Award this season, even with him playing a new position.
Andrew McCutchen’s poor arm will also be protected by right field at PNC Park. Which is a luxury for the Pirates as this allows them to put the much more athletic Gregory Polanco in PNC Park’s massive left field.
Getting Andrew McCutchen out of center field makes the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates a much better team defensively. If Andrew McCutchen can bounce back offensively this season, as I expect, that combined with him being much better suited for right field than center field should lead to a huge increase in his value this season.