Gregory Polanco Is Starting To Heat Up
After a very slow start to the season, Pirate outfielder Gregory Polanco is starting to heat up at the plate for the Bucs.
Entering the 2017 season the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to rely heavily on outfielder Gregory Polanco to contribute to their offense. The importance of this increased when the Pirates found out that they may be without Jung Ho Kang all season. His importance once again increased when the Bucs lost Starling Marte to an 80-game suspension in April.
Unfortunately for Polanco and the Pirates, he got off to a slow start this season. This has contributed to his overall numbers this season not being the prettiest. However, Gregory Polanco is starting to heat up at the plate.
So far this season Gregory Polanco owns a .339 on-base percentage, .125 ISO, .375 slugging percentage, and a wRC+ of 94. However, his 10.9 percent walk rate is a career high while his 14.1 percent strikeout rate is a career low. Furthermore, his 11 doubles lead the Pirates and are tied for the fourth most in the National League.
Overall, his total numbers are a mixed bag thus far in 2017. Despite trending upward for nearly a month now, they continue to be plagued by a slow start.
Through the season’s first 14 games Gregory Polanco was not doing much of anything well at the plate. He was not getting on base (.298 on-base percentage), he was not hitting for power (.059 ISO and .275 slugging percentage), and he was striking out too much (19.3 percent strikeout rate).
All of this led to him having a wRC+ of just 61 through his first 57 plate appearances this season. On April 23rd this started to change, though. Gregory Polanco was 2/4 with a double against the Yankees that Sunday afternoon, and he has been hitting the ball well ever since.
In his past 71 plate appearances, Gregory Polanco has looked more like the hitter Pirate fans saw in the first half of last season. During this stretch, he owns a .371 on-base percentage. He has been extremely patient at the plate posting an impressive walk-to-strikeout ratio of 9:7.
Gregory Polanco has also started to hit for power during this stretch. While, yes, he still has just a single home run this season remember doubles are power, too. In his last 71 plate appearances, Gregory Polanco owns a .180 ISO and a slugging percentage of .459.
Another area where Gregory Polanco has improved during this hot stretch is that he is hitting fewer ground balls. He was hitting ground balls at a 55 percent rate in his first 57 plate appearances, in his past 71 he is hitting ground balls at just a 46.3 percent rate. The fewer ground balls a player hits, the more hits they will accumulate.
Furthermore, his line drive rate has increased as well. It has gone up from 17.5 percent to 25.9 percent. This is, obviously, a significant increase.
All of this has led to Polanco posting a .357 wOBA and a wRC+ of 122 during this recent hot stretch. Hopefully, a sign of things to come for the rest of Gregory Polanco’s 2017 campaign.
Next: Gerrit Cole's New Weapon
Gregory Polanco is finally starting to heat up at the plate, and this is a great thing for a Pirate team that is struggling so much offensively. Furthermore, as the Pirate slide continues it becomes more and more possible that 2017 is a season about building and developing for next year. Gregory Polanco is a big part of this, so seeing him go on to have a big season would be a great thing for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.