Rookie first baseman/outfielder Jose Osuna has earned the right to be playing every day for the Pittsburgh Pirates right now.
The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have a lot of warts. Right now, six players that were projected to be on the Opening Day roster are injured, suspended, or on the restricted list. However, this creates opportunities for younger players.
One such player is Jose Osuna. The 24-year old first baseman/outfielder has always hit throughout his minor league career. He was then the MVP of Spring Training this season. And now, for the first time in his career Osuna is in the Major Leagues.
There are not many, if any, at bats to be had at first base right now. This is due to Josh Bell being arguably the Pirates’ best hitter, as well as the fact he is turning into an above average defensive first baseman. However, there are plenty of at-bats to be had in the outfield and these at bats should be going to Jose Osuna.
With Starling Marte suspended and Adam Frazier on the disabled list, the Pirates need a third outfielder to start alongside Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco. Jose Osuna has earned the right to be this third outfielder. Even when Frazier returns, which could be as soon as this week, Osuna should still get plenty of at-bats.
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Since being promoted to the Major Leagues on April 18th Jose Osuna has accumulated 48 plate appearances. He has hit for very good power in these 48 plate appearances as he owns a .233 ISO and a slugging percentage of .488. He has hit 3 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run.
Jose Osuna has also done a good job of putting the ball in play. His strikeout rate is just 12.5 percent, to go along with an 85.5 percent contact rate. Additionally, he owns a .333 on-base percentage.
All of this has shaken out to the tune of a .352 wOBA and a wRC+ of 117 for Jose Osuna, both of which are well above the league average (.320 and 100).
In recent games, the other player getting starts in right field other than Osuna has been John Jaso. This season Jaso has been a mess at the plate (33 wRC+, 22.5 percent strikeout rate, .239 on-base percentage), and even worse in right field.
Unlike Osuna, Jaso is not a natural outfielder and it has shown. His routes in the outfield have been terrible, and he has misplayed multiple balls which have led to Pirate pitchers allowing multiple runs that they should not have. This has led to him owning a defensive runs saved (DRS) of -3 in right field this season.
While no one will ever mistake Jose Osuna for a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, he will at least make the routine plays in the outfield. This is something that John Jaso can not say.
Right now, Jose Osuna is the best option to play right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is the best option both offensively and defensively.
At just 24-years old, Osuna could have a future role with the Pirates. Even if this role is simply as a bench player. It is time for the Pirates to see what they have in Jose Osuna by playing him every day, and this is something that he has earned.