Pittsburgh Pirates: The Outfield Alignment Shuffling Again

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates made their biggest move of their offseason by acquiring outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had one of their more fascinating off-season’s in recent years.  After missing the boat in the 2015-2016 and the 2016-2017 off-seasons, they have made multiple notable moves.  Of course, early in the offseason, it was them shipping players out like Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen.  With those trades, they helped bolster their bullpen, added some prospects back into the system, and filled the biggest hole on the team at third base.  However, the Pittsburgh Pirates also opened a large hole in the outfield.  Everyone assumed that Starling Marte would shift to center field.  With that, many started to wonder who would step into left field.

Well, a few days after the McCutchen trade, the organization suggested that Gregory Polanco would move to left field.  This meant that Adam Frazier and Jordan Luplow were in the driver seat to platoon in right field, which raised immediate red flags.  First off, fans were not happy to see them going into the 2018 season without a legitimate third starting outfielder.  The Bucs struggled last season when Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco were out of the lineup due to not having true outfield options.  At one point, the Bucs had John Jaso in the outfield, something that should have never happened.

Gregory Polanco in Left Field

Second, Gregory Polanco started the year in left field in 2017, and well, it was not exactly stellar.  Last year he played 207 innings and put up -2 defensive runs saved and 0.5 UZR, which puts him as an average fielder.  However, fans could see that he was not exactly all the graceful in left.  Meanwhile, he posted better numbers in right with four defensive runs saved and a UZR of 3.0.  Also, in most stadiums, teams put their best arm in right field, Polanco’s arm over the course of the season will be just as valuable, if not more in right field.

Finally, the Pittsburgh Pirates made the necessary move to bring in an established outfielder in Corey Dickerson.  Dickerson is not only a veteran outfielder, but has played most of his career in left field.  Dickerson has played 2807.1 innings as a left fielder, versus 202 in center field and 25.2 in right field.   As a left fielder he has posted a positive UZR/150 over the last two seasons.  In 2016 he had a strong 14.5 UZR/150, while last year he regressed some, but still was above league average giving a 4.5 UZR/150.

Also, Neal Huntington told reporters to expect Dickerson to be the primary left fielder.  He told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

"“Corey Dickerson will be the Pirates’ primary left fielder, Pirates GM Neal Huntington said.”"

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While Dickerson is not going to go out and win any gold gloves, he does make the Pittsburgh Pirates a better team on defense.  Acquiring him not only bolsters the lineup, but allows Gregory Polanco stay in right where he is more comfortable.  Also, Dickerson brings way more experience playing in the outfield than the original primary option in Adam Frazier. All in all, this is a move that should help the Pittsburgh Pirates be more competitive on both sides of the game.