Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Players Who Need to Step Up

While the 2021 season will likely be another losing one for the Pittsburgh Pirates, there are still some players on the team who will need to step up

There is no question that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in complete rebuild mode, but we still have a 2021 season ahead of us. Ben Cherington is constructing this team exactly how he needs to in order to be competitive with a very thin wallet.

As a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates loading up on prospects and developing these young guys in minor league ball is what you want to see. However, most of the blooming players that we are all excited to watch won’t touch the big leagues for a couple years.

Pittsburgh has to assemble a team that needs to show at least some promise. Expectations are real low in Steel City but that doesn’t mean fans won’t be looking for some bright spots. Here are the players that have to step up for the 2021 season.

Bryan Reynolds 

After putting together one of the greatest hitting displays ever by a Pirate rookie back in 2019, Reynolds turned into a player none of us recognized. As a rookie he hit .314/.377/.503 with a 16 home runs and 68 RBIs across 546 plate appearances.

Pirate fans began thinking that Pittsburgh may have struck gold here. A 4th place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year race capped off Reynolds’s campaign with a bang.

In 2020 his numbers sank in almost every category. He hit just .189/.275/.357 with just a 0.6 WAR which was 3.5 less than what it was in his previous season.

If there is one positive takeaway from 2019 to 2020, Reynolds was more patient at the plate. His patience may have been because his bat was not as a strong but if he can put two and two together, hopefully we can get the Reynolds the Pittsburgh Pirates need.

Gregory Polanco 

The Pirate that everyone had high hopes for is now in a crucial year of his career if he wants to continue to play at the highest level for some time. When Pittsburgh signed Polanco there wasn’t a major ceiling but as he continued to work on his craft, scouts began to notice that thePittsburgh  Pirates may have found a diamond in the rough.

After an eye-opening 2012 season with the West Virginia Power of the Single-A South Atlantic League, word began to spread that this kid could be the real deal. Polanco hit .325/.388/.522 with 16 home runs and swiped 40 bags. The 20-year-old was turning heads.

Fast forward to today and Polanco has come nowhere close to what some believed he could be. Injuries have absolutely taken a toll on the 29-year-old but in a season that nobody expects much from Pittsburgh, this is when Polanco needs to come out hungry. There isn’t a whole lot of power in this lineup with Josh Bell gone now which means the Pirates are going to be looking elsewhere for some big swings. Polanco has the capability to hit 25 homers as long as he stays healthy. If he can stay on the field, it is time for him to take control and give Pittsburgh a push in the power department.

Todd Frazier

When Frazier was signed last week, I loved the signing. It gives the Pirates a veteran in the clubhouse that can hopefully help mentor many of these young prospects. Frazier is a former two-time National League All-Star and has hit for over 35 home runs twice in his career.

His best days are most likely behind him but if Pittsburgh can squeeze whatever he has left in the tank, he could potentially still hit for over 15 homers if the Pirates decide to go with a platoon approach over at first base.

With this signing Pittsburgh isn’t just getting some pop from the right side of the plate but they’re also getting veteran leadership and experience that the team desperately needed. It is just as important for Frazier to help these prospects as it is for him to be an asset in the batter’s box.

Pittsburgh can not simply rely on the prospects to fill out the entire team in a couple years from now. There needs to be pieces from the current roster that can help the Pirates down the line as well. Every successful club has to have some experienced veterans to lead the charge and these three players are huge components to the 2021 season.