Pittsburgh Pirates: Top Offensive Spring Training Perfomers
Spring training is quickly winding down, and opening day is less than two weeks away! Who are some of the Pittsburgh Pirates hot hitters that could open the season strong?
Spring training is the time of the year where there are two types of sentences thrown out there about player performances. The first is if a player is struggling many will say, “Well it is only spring training, he is getting the rust off.” Meanwhile, on the flip side, if a player is having success it is, “Wow player x is having a heck of a spring, could this be the year for him?” This is an age-old argument, do spring training stats really matter? It is hard to say, but regardless they are live games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, so let’s take a look at some of the numbers posted so far this spring.
Francisco Cervelli very well could be the biggest x-factor on the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. When Cervelli is healthy, he is one of the better all-around catchers in the National League. He not only is valuable behind the plate with his pitch framing ability and game management, but also can be very productive from the plate. Of course, the key to all of this is him being healthy. As Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw last year, injuries really can hamper players, especially catchers. So far Cervelli looks healthy this spring and is performing as so. He has played in nine games, which is lower than most of the regulars, but it’s for obvious reasons in terms of keeping him fresh. In those nine games, he has posted a slash line of .420/.500./.850. He has three doubles, two home runs, and five walks.
Star Potential Outfield Needs to Continue
If Cervelli is the biggest x-factor for the Pittsburgh Pirates, that makes Starling Marte x-factor B. Everyone saw the wheels start to come off the team last season when Marte was given an 80 game suspension. Even when he returned, things never seemed to really get back to normal for Marte due to him having so much time off. Of course, this season the all-star caliber outfielder has a lot to prove, and he will be taking over center field for the since-departed Andrew McCutchen. So far he is having a really positive spring, posting a slash line of .400/.419/.733. Marte has 12 hits in 10 games along with four stolen bases, but has struck out seven times. Although he has struck out a good bit, this is the type of player Marte is and what we have come to expect.
Another player who needs to bounce back in order for the Bucs to compete is Gregory Polanco. Of course, Polanco missed a lot of time last year due to an early-season shoulder injury and then a lingering hamstring issue. When Polanco is healthy, the former top prospect rakes. He looks healthy this spring, and he has produced solid offensive number since. His slash line is a strong .379/.419/.828 in 10 games. The right fielder has 11 hits, which include four doubles and three home runs.
Super Utility Frazier Continues to Hit
The last player to look at is utility player Adam Frazier. At one point this offseason it seemed destined that Frazier would be the team’s opening day second baseman. The Pittsburgh Pirates were unloading their pricier veterans, and Josh Harrison‘s name often came up in rumors. To add to the drama, Harrison then asked to be dealt if the Pirates were not going to try to compete in 2018. The organization decided to hang on to Harrison, which has kept Frazier as the team’s utility player. Still, Frazier has gotten plenty of opportunities to play this spring. He has compiled a .387/.472/.677 slash line in 12 games. Also, he has only struck out three times while walking five times.
Next: Pirates Top Prospects: Lolo Sanchez
While all these players have small sample sizes, it is better to see them doing well than not. The biggest thing to take away is that these are some key players on the Pittsburgh Pirates. If they are doing well, chances are the team has a shot to play in a lot of competitive ball games. This especially holds true with players like Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, who could take this team to the next level. Also, Fransisco Cervelli being productive is great, but if he can stay healthy he will help this young pitching staff, which might be his biggest contribution. Lastly, it will be interesting to see how Frazier is utilized this season, and if he eventually will replace Josh Harrison at second base if/when a trade happens.