Pittsburgh Pirates: Lets Build A Lineup

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Assuming Jung Ho Kang does not get suspended for DUI, which a trial date has now been set, Kang will start as the Pirates 2017 third baseman.  Kang’s .337 projected wOBA makes him the team’s third-best hitter, behind McCutchen and Marte.  The Book told us the three best hitters should be batting first, second, and fourth.  We’ve failed that outside of the number two spot with McCutchen.  But the difference between Bell and Kang and Kang and Marte are minimal, 0.001 points of wOBA.

The reason Kang gets the spot here is his power.  His projected slugging of .445 might not be as high as Marte’s (.447), but Kang’s projected .184 ISO is much better than Marte’s projected .159 ISO.  Kang has the power and roughly the same amount of offensive ability.

His projection may seem to be low on his power, Kang has posted slugging percentages of .461 and .513, to go along with ISO’s of .173 and .258.  The concern for Kang would be how often his fly balls left the park, as Kang has posted 16.9 and 23.2 percent home run per fly ball rates in 2015 and 2016.  League average those two years were 11.4 percent and 12.8 percent respectively.

Kang will likely regress in terms of fly balls leaving the park, but one thing he did extremely well, was barreling up the baseball.  Of his 206 batted ball events, Kang had 20 barrels, or a barrels/batted ball event of 9.71 percent, third best on the team last season.  If Kang keeps up his ability to barrel the baseball, he will provide the power, more so than Marte, which cements Kang as the Bucs cleanup hitter.