Kevin Newman has locked down the lead off spot in the lineup
Additionally, the former 1st round pick has become the Pirate lead off hitter. Batting lead off is a job Newman currently has a stranglehold on.
After another multi-hit performance in Sunday’s victory Newman now owns a healthy .315/.364/.430 slash line this season. His walk rate is 6.8%, his strikeout rate is just 13.6%, and he owns a 109 wRC+. He’s also stolen 4 bases as he’s used his speed element.
At the top of the lineup Newman has consistently given the Pirates good at bats while being a tough out. He has done a great job of seeing pitches from the lead off spot, which gives the rest of the lineup a good chance to see what the opposing pitcher has to offer that day. His shortstop defense has also come a long way this season, as he rates outs positively as a defender.
After struggling mightily in 2018, Newman has been one of the team’s biggest surprises in 2019. He is starting to play the way you would expect a 1st round pick to play.