During the 2019 season Kevin Newman appeared to be emerging as the long-term answer at shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. While he struggled defensively at the position, his .308/.353/.446 slash line and 110 wRC+ more than made up for it.
Unfortunately, Newman’s offense did not appear to be sustainable. This was due to his exit velocity and hard hit rate in 2019 both being in the bottom 5% of MLB. Well, this caught up to Newman in 2020 when his offense slumped to a .224/.281/.276 slash line and a wRC+ of 54.
Now, Newman is a better hitter than he showed in 2020. Is he as good as he hit for in 2019? Probably not. However, he is certainly better than he showed in 2020.
The issue for Newman at shortstop is his defense. Newmans has a lifetime -13 Defensive Runs Saved and -12 OAA. These numbers put him among the worst defensive shortstops in baseball. Odds are, Newman will only be the shortstop to begin 2021 if Adam Frazier is not traded, no other shortstop options are added and no one else steps. The smart money would be on Frazier getting traded and Newman opening up 2021 as Pittsburgh’s second baseman.