Projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day Lineup

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CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates signs autographs for fans during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates signs autographs for fans during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Shortstop

Like with second base, who is currently playing the position now could change very early on in the 2020 season. But, for now, the Pittsburgh Pirates have penciled in Kevin Newman as the team’s current shortstop.

Last year, Newman was a bit of an under the radar rookie, seeing as he batted .308/.353/.446, hit a dozen home runs to go with 16 stolen bases, had a 110 wRC+, but didn’t receive a single National League Rookie of the Year vote. Defensively, Newman was one of the worst shortstops in baseball with -7 DRS, -4 range runs above average and -5.2 UZR. All of these ranked as the 5th worst mark among shortstops last year with at least 800 innings at the position. Regardless, he’ll open the season as the team’s starting shortstop.

But if either Newman or Frazier get off to a slow start, then the defensively gifted Cole Tucker will likely get the opportunity to take over at short. Tucker had +2 DRS, 0.3 range runs above average and a 4.6 UZR/150 in the short amount of time he was in the Majors. Plus, after getting off to a slow start offensively to his MLB career, Tucker was improving in the home stretch of the 2019 season. His final 51 plate appearances saw him hit .267/.353/.511. Plus with an above average hard hit rate Tucker’s bat isn’t a big worry for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Newman is also a better defender at second base. In fact, he rates out as an above average defender at second. So, it would not be a surprise to see Tucker at shortstop and Newman at second base by the end of the season.

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