Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 Rum Bunter Staff Predictions: Nick

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

Pittsburgh Pirates MVP

The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the best outfields in baseball.  If Andrew McCutchen can bounce back they easily have the best all-around outfield in the NL Central, and possibly the National League.  Last year, Starling Marte was the best of the group.  However, at the beginning of the season, Gregory Polanco was not only the best hitting outfielder, but the most productive hitter in the lineup.

Polanco was hitting .299/.377/.515 with a .373 wOBA and 136 wRC+ entering July.  He also was walking at a rate of 11.9 percent.  After the hot first half of the season, Polanco regressed in the second half.  Polanco saw his numbers dwindle as he hit just .216/.261/.409 with a .284 wOBA and a 76 wRC+.  It came out after the season that Polanco was having some issues in both his knees and shoulder.  Right after the season, Polanco received injections into his knee to help mend them.

With that being said, if Polanco is healthy this season he should take another step forward.  Over his first two and a half years in the league, Polanco has shown a steady improvement each season.  The now 25-year old seems primed to put it together for a full season. Entering his third full season he should have enough experience to be able to stay consistent from April through October.  Expectations should be high for the new left fielder as he continues to mature physically and mentally. He was very impressive with the Dominican Republic in the WBC, and he earned a nod on the WBC all-star team. With Polanco looking bigger and more mature, he will likely be the key cog in the middle of the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup.