Rum Bunter 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Staff Predictions: Noah

BRADENTON, FL- FEBRUARY 22: Manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during a game against the Minnesota Twins on February 21, 2020 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FL- FEBRUARY 22: Manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during a game against the Minnesota Twins on February 21, 2020 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 07: Jose Osuna #36 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs in from the outfield during summer workouts at PNC Park on July 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 07: Jose Osuna #36 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs in from the outfield during summer workouts at PNC Park on July 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Worst Position: First Base

It was kind of hard to narrow down this one. I really don’t think the Pittsburgh Pirates, at any position, are truly awful at. But out of the nine positions on the field, I think I have to go with first base. Josh Bell will likely see most of his plate appearances at designated hitter this year. This leaves first base open to a handful of players with question marks.

Jose Osuna is currently the Pirates’ best option at first. Last year, Osuna batted for a solid .264/.310/.456 line with a 100 OPS+ and 97 wRC+ in 285 plate appearances. He also had an exact league average wOBA of .320. Defensively, he has -1 DRS, a -3.8 UZR/150 and 1.1 range runs above average at first base. While his 2019 season shows that Osuna can handle MLB pitching, he did struggle in 2017 and 2018. Through the first 338 plate appearances of his career, Osuna only had a .681 OPS and 79 OPS+/76 wRC+.

If Osuna falters, the Pittsburgh Pirates could use Colin Moran at first base, but that also doesn’t inspire much confidence either. In the past two years since getting semi-regular playing time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Moran has only hit .277/.331/.419 with a .319 wOBA and 98 wRC+. Plus with his awful defense at third base, he has a fWAR of just 0.8. Moran, like Craig, saw a dramatic change in plate discipline. After walking 8.4% of the time and striking out in just 17.6% of his plate appearances in 2018, Moran walked just 6% of the time in ‘19, and saw his strikeout rate balloon to 23.3%.

If all else fails, the Pittsburgh Pirates might try Will Craig at first base, but he isn’t a sure thing offensively either. While he might be a solid defender, there’s many questions about his bat. Despite playing in such a hitter friendly environment that was Triple-A last year, Craig still had a batting line of just .249/.326/.435 with 23 home runs, doubles, and a 92 wRC+. Craig saw his strikeout rate skyrocket from 23.3% in 2018 to 26.3% in 2019, while his walk rate only went up by .2% (7.7% to 7.9%). This is a far cry from the plate discipline he displayed early in his career when he had a 12.6% walk rate and 17.5% walk rate in 2016-2017. The Pirates also have many questions about Craig as they did not invited him to Pittsburgh for summer camp.

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