Pittsburgh Pirates Rum Bunter Staff 2017 Predictions: David
Easiest choice would be Gerrit Cole, where he goes the team goes, but I’ll save that name for later. The second easiest would be Starling Marte, who I predicted last year:
"“After another strong campaign in 2015, hitting .287/.337/.444, Starling Marte will continue to prove why he is a top left fielder in the Major Leagues. He will post career bests in slugging and home runs, while maintaining his elite defensive prowess in left field. Marte is a star in the making, and this year the 27-year-old will not only be the Pirates MVP, he’ll look to compete and finish in the top 5 in the National League MVP race."
He ended up posting career highs in on-base and slugging, but posted his second least amount of home runs (2012 was his lowest, 47 games). He didn’t finish top five in the MVP race, finishing 49th in BWARP. He’s a strong bet to be the most valuable this year, especially now that he will be in center instead of left. But he’s not my pick.
Francisco Cervelli will be the team’s most valuable. In 2016 he finished 97th in BWARP, but when adjusted for plate appearances he finished 60th, good but not great. After a season with an 119 wRC+ in 2015, he was at 99 (1 percent below average) last year. He’s still an on-base machine, a .377 OBP, but his power was absent, as he posted a .058 ISO.
In 2015 his exit velocity was 88.1 miles per hour with a 7.3-degree launch angle. Last season it was 86.6 and 7.5 respectively. Part of that exit velocity can be contributed to breaking his Hammett bone, as, before June 10, the day he broke it, Cervelli’s exit velocity was 89 mph. Will a fully healed bone allow him to tap back into that power and see the offensive performance we saw in 2015? If so, he’ll be the Pirates most valuable when you factor in his pitch framing, which was good enough for seventh best despite missing time.