Rum Bunter’s 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview: Nick

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Team MVP- Gregory Polanco

The Pittsburgh Pirates outfield is going under a drastic change this season.  The team will be seeing Starling Marte move to center field to take over for number 22.  Meanwhile, Gregory Polanco will continue to man right field with Corey Dickerson getting most of the reps in left field.  So who will step up to take over as the team’s star outfielder?

Gregory Polanco is entering his fourth full professional season, and he is coming off the heels of a tough 2017.  Last season, Polanco only appeared in 108 games, battling shoulder and hamstring issues most of the year. So with that, the hope is that he can stay healthy and on the field this season.  If so, the Pittsburgh Pirates should get a really good player.

Polanco is the type of player that could be a true difference maker.  He is a solid defender, but has one the best arms in the National League.  Over the last three seasons, he has had almost 30 outfield assists.  Also, everyone knows the potential this player has on offense.  He tore up the minor leagues as a top prospect, and then put together a team record 11 game hit streak to start a career upon his promotion in 2014.  His best season came in 2016 when he hit 22 bombs and slashed .258/.323/.463.  The expectation was for him to continue to grow in 2017, but as mentioned earlier, he struggled.

This is the year that Polanco will finally take that step forward.  He is entering his age 26 season, which should be the start of his prime.  This past offseason Polanco said that he went back to his previous trainer to help him become better prepared for the long haul of the season.  With his size and natural talent, Polanco should be primed for an upper .200 batting average and close to 30 bombs.  If he can put up those types of numbers, the team will finally get the player that was touted as one the games’ next stars.