Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Shortstop Options For 2021

Sep 18, 2020; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Kevin Newman (27) throws to first base to complete a double play against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2020; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Kevin Newman (27) throws to first base to complete a double play against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hitter Cole Tucker (3) doubles against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Indians won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hitter Cole Tucker (3) doubles against the Cleveland Indians during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Indians won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Cole Tucker

In the first-round of the 2014 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected shortstop Cole Tucker. While Tucker spent the majority of the 2020 season in the outfield, with his lone non-outfield innings coming at second base, a return to the infield seems likely for 2021. General manager Ben Cherington has even said as much.

Tucker might be the most defensively gifted shortstop in the entire Pirate organization. The problem with Tucker is his offense. He is just a lifetime .215/.260/.324 hitter with a wRC+ of 53. This includes a lifetime 85.8 MPH exite velocity, which is nearly 3 MPH below league average.

So, not only has Tucker struggled offensively, but there has not been much of a sign for optimism with his bat, either. His 5.5% walk rate is below league average, and his 25.8% strikeout rate is abvoe league average. So, those numbers are not promising, either.

Now, all of that said, Tucker’s results have come in just 275 MLB plate appearances. Outside of late April/early May 2019, when Tucker not MLB ready but was forced into duty due to injuries, he has never received regular playing time.

Could we see Tucker at shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day? As a wise man once said, time will tell.

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