2021 Pittsburgh Pirates Rum Bunter Staff Prediction: Noah Wright

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Feb 24, 2021; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Adam Frazier (26) takes infield practice during spring training at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Weakest Position: Second Base

One of the Pirates’ best prospects is a second baseman, that being the 7th overall selection in 2020’s draft, Nick Gonzales. But for now, I think it will be the weakest position for the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout most of the 2021 season.

Adam Frazier will likely start out the year at second base. Frazier is a plus defender. The two time Gold Glove finalist has +3 DRS, 2.1 range runs above average and 5.1 UZR/150 in the past two seasons. Plus he’s been among the league’s best in outs above average. However, he can be inconsistent with the bat at times.

Frazier only had an 80 wRC+ and .291 wOBA throughout 2020, but got off to a cold start (.245 wOBA, 50 wRC+) to finish on a high note throughout the rest of the second half (111 wRC+, .338 wOBA). Even then, the chances that Frazier is traded are high.

If that happens, then Kevin Newman likely takes over at the keystone. Newman looked good on the surface in 2019 with a .308/.353/.446 line and 109 wRC+, but he rarely made hard contact with a 24.8% hard hit rate (bottom 6% in the league) and had an average exit velocity of 85.3 MPH (bottom 5% of the league). Things weren’t much better in 2020 with an 85.5 MPH exit velo and 28.3% hard hit rate. Plus he’s never been that big of a hitter in the minors. His career minor league numbers include a .730 OPS, .100 isolated slugging percentage and .325 wOBA.

Newman is a negative defender at shortstop, but looked decent at second base in 2019. Through 157.2 innings, the infielder had +2 DRS, 1.9 UZR and .8 range runs above average. But in 2020, those fell to -1 DRS, -.8 UZR/150 and 0 range runs above average through a very similar amount of innings, 159 to be exact.

I do believe that Phillip Evans will eventually become the regular secondbaseman, but overall, the position has the shallowest depth. Frazier isn’t going to be around very much longer and the Pirates can’t rely on Kevin Newman to rebound.

Polanco Off To A Red Hot Spring Start. dark. Next

My Final Thoughts

The 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t going to be a good team, but that’s to be expected for an organization in the middle of a rebuild. However, how the major league team performs overall isn’t nearly as important as how their top prospects and other young players develop and perform.

The Pirates have many top prospects coming up through the system. Aside from Hayes, the development of Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, Liover Peguero, Travis Swaggerty, Tahnaj Thomas, Hudson Head, 2020 first round pick Nick Gonzales and many more are going to be the main focus of this upcoming season.

This will also be a season for the Pittsburgh Pirates to determine who is part of the long term future and who isn’t. Fringe players like Newman, Cole Tucker, Anthony Alford and a handful of relief pitchers will likely get a shot at the major league level to prove themselves.