Projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day Lineup
By Noah Wright
Jacob Stallings will be the clear regular behind the dish for the Pittsburgh Pirates heading into 2020. Stallings did not do all that bad for a catcher in the hitting department, slashing .262/.325/.382 with an 87 OPS+, and 82 wRC+. Plus, with an xWOBA of .313, 96 deserved runs created, and xSlugging of .423, Stallings could be quite the underrated bat in the Pirates’ line up.
However. even if he doesn’t improve offensively, he’ll be just fine as the Pittsburgh Pirates regular catcher. After all, Stallings could be a legitimate National League Gold Glove Award candidate this year.
In 2019, Stallings had +14 DRS, caught 40% of the runners trying to steal on him and was an outstanding pitch framer. His 8.7 framing runs saved was the 11th highest mark in baseball, and that was in a limited 463.1 innings behind the plate. Across a whole 1000 innings, he could easily be the best framer in all of baseball. By the end of the season, Pirate starting pitchers were requesting that Stallings caught them for a reason.
While Stallings will start behind the plate, Luke Maile and John Ryan Murphy could see playing time as well. But this will be a big season for Stallings as he looks to prove he is a legitimate number one catcher at the MLB level.