Rum Bunter’s 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates Staff Preview: Marty

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Pablo Reyes #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates high fives with Adam Frazier #26 after the final out in a 2-1 win over the Kansas City Royals at PNC Park on September 19, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Predicting The 2019 Record

If there was one word to describe the Pittsburgh Pirates entering the 2019 season it would be intriguing. The Bucs have a very strong pitching staff that should give them an opportunity to win every night. That said, there are plenty of question marks surrounding their lineup and defense.

The two keys for the Pirates in 2019 may prove to be Jung Ho Kang and Josh Bell. If Kang can carry his spring success and power surge that has made him look like the 3+ WAR player he was in 2015 and 2016 into the regular season, that would go a long toward answers the questions around this lineup. If Bell can do what he did in the final four months of 2018 (.378 OBP, .422 slugging percentage, .150 ISO, 122 wRC+) for all six months of 2019, well, it would have a similar impact to that of Kang adding much needed thump to the middle of the Pirate lineup.

Infield defense is the other question mark. Bell and Frazier are below average fielders, and Kang is average at best at third base. This will put a lot of pressure on Gonzalez at short, and if he fails offensively we may start to see more of Newman who is an average at best defender at the position.

Next. Winners & Losers Of Spring Training. dark

Ultimately, the Pirates have too much pitching for me to predict a losing record. That said, there are too many question marks around their lineup and defense for me to predict a postseason berth. Had they better address shortstop and the final rotation spot in the offseason, may feelings on the postseason could be different.

2019 record prediction: 85-77