Pittsburgh Pirates: Starting Middle Infield Off to Sluggish Start

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates need more of their young players take a step forward this season. The team especially needs to see production from their middle infield.

So far this spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates have not been playing very good baseball.  They have struggled to keep teams off the board, but also have struggled to put up runs consistently.  Of course, some of this is because of the inconsistent lineups that feature a few regulars, prospects, and minor league veterans.  Still, the other teams in the Grapefruit League are trotting out similarly constructed lineups.

It is still just Spring Training and no one needs to be reminded that these numbers are mostly meaningless.  Players are working to get back into baseball form or simply just trying something new in these exhibition games.  However, if players can impress with their Spring Training numbers, then other players can also disappoint with poor numbers.

Last year Kevin Newman was a breakout rookie for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He, along with Adam Frazier, gave a glimpse at an upside middle infield.  Newman posted a batting average over .300 and Frazier had his most consistent season as a professional, both at the plate and in the field.  The expectations for them going into 2020 are for them to continue to be solid ball players up the middle.

If spring is any indicator, Newman and Frazier have a bit of work to do.  Out of the regulars from last season those two have had the most plate appearances.  So far Frazier has had 16 at-bats while Newman has had 15.  Both of them have batting averages sitting below .200 with a combined five hits in 31 at-bats.

This is not what the Pittsburgh Pirates want to see.  These two are going to be key contributors to the big league club this season.  Newman is entering his second full season and needs to continue to develop like the first-round pick that he was.  Frazier, on the other hand, needs to keep producing to boost his value, both for the Pirates ability to compete and in the market place.  It seemed like a real possibility that he was going to be traded this past offseason, so it is likely still under consideration going forward.

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Once again, Spring Training stats are not everything.  Between the two of them, they only have 31 plate appearances, which is a small sample size.  Still, Pittsburgh Pirates fans rather see the players do well, even if it is just Spring Training.  The Bucs need to get off to a good start this year if they want to avoid having a really poor season.  They need their players who produced for the team last year to keep on producing in 2020.  Newman and Frazier need to get their bats going.