Pittsburgh Pirates: Putting Some Respect in Jacob Stallings Name
By Cody Potanko
There are still people who do not properly respect Jacob Stallings, but it is time for everyone to start to wise up to the Pittsburgh Pirates back stop
As this odd 2020 season is coming close to an end, we sure saw some peaks and valleys in MLB. As a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, you likely saw a lot more valleys than peaks. I will tell you you’re not wrong, but there has been some bright spots on a season riddled with disappointment and frustration.
One of those bright spots came by way of the bullpen. You have young guys and some veterans who have proven their worth and then some. Some of those guys I’m talking about are Geoff Hartleib, Nik Turley, Sam Howard, Nick Tropeano, and Richard Rodriguez. I’m not here to talk about them today. I’m here to talk about the guy who has been behind the plate directing those pitchers and many more. Yes, I’m going to talk about Jacob Stallings.
Stallings came into this season with some unfair criticism, and I never understood why. He will always give you solid defense behind the plate and, as we have seen this year, his frame jobs have been nothing short of great. I know this stat isn’t everyone’s favorite stat, and it may come with some criticism, but his defensive runs saved last season was +14. In 2020, if the season were at regular length, would most likely be the same or better.
“But what about his bat Cody?” Well, I’ll get to that people geez have some patience. For a guy who’s hitting in the 8th or 9th spot in the order for the Pittsburgh Pirates, you can’t really expect a whole lot from him.
Last year it wasn’t all that good with a slash line of .262/.325/.382. His advanced numbers were below average with a wRC+ of 82 and a wOBA of .297. Again what do you expect from an eight-hole hitter?
This year, Stallings has given us a little bit of a different story. His slash line improved to .274/.355/.400, and his advanced numbers are above average with a wRC+ of 107 and a wOBA of .333. These numbers may have to be taken with a grain of salt due to the lack of games and at-bats, but you can see he has improved even to the naked eye.
Still not convinced, eh? Well, let’s dive a little deeper then. His ground ball rate has dropped from 47.7 to 43.9, while his line drive rate has risen from 18.5% to 19.7%. Oh yeah, his hard hit percentage is up 1.3 percentage points to 36.8%. One other thing that’s been good for Stallings is his average exit velocity numbers. Although it went down slightly to 88.7 MPH, he maintained to stay above the league average of 87.9 MPH.
All of this is not to say that Stallings deserves to be in Cooperstown or that we should hand him over the MVP award, but I will say that he has been a bright spot on this team this year. Honestly, I ca not imagine failing to appreciate a guy like Stallings behind the plate every night.