While injuries in sports are never good, they can create opportunities for other players. And a recent injury has created a big opportunity for a young Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder
Last week, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that right fielder Gregory Polanco will undergo shoulder surgery. This surgery will put Polanco on the shelf for 7 – 9 months, meaning he will not be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Polanco’s injury is a big blow to the 2019 Pirates. This season Polanco had turned a corner and was becoming the player the organization had hoped for when he was one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Polanco had been the team’s best hitter in 2018 after setting new career highs in home runs, triples, extra base hits, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and WAR.
While the loss of Polanco could make life difficult for the Pirate offense early in the 2019 season, it also creates an opportunity for other players. There is no player with a bigger opportunity due to the Polanco injury than Jordan Luplow.
The 24-year-old Luplow has found himself playing on a near daily basis in the month of September, especially since Polanco was injured on September 7th. Thus far, Luplow has taken advantage of the opportunity he has been given by slashing .292/.393/.458 this month.
A former 3rd round draft pick, Luplow is a player the Pirates have always been high on. Throughout the minor leagues he has always hit, and with power to boot, now he has an opportunity to translate it to the MLB level.
At Triple-A Luplow slashed .287/.367/.462 with a .175 ISO and an 8.7% extra base hit rit. In 2017 Luplow slashed .325/.401/.513 with a .188 ISO and a 10.7% extra base hit rate for Indianapolis. So, the ability to hit and to do it with power is undoubtedly there for Luplow.
Since Polanco should be ready to return by May or June of next season, the odds of the Pirates adding a true every day outfielder to replace him this offseason are low. The team may add a fourth outfielder type, but do not expect them to make a major move with the outfield. Combine this with all signs pointing toward super utility man Adam Frazier settling in as the new starting second baseman and it creates an opportunity for Luplow to win a starting job in the outfield.