Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining The Middle Infield’s Potential


Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman have both been swinging the bat extremely well this spring but can this continue for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the regular season?

Between Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman the middle infield of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been red hot at the plate. Combined they have put together an absurd .656 batting average across 32 at-bats which is the result of 21 hits. 21 for 32! The two are at the top of the leader board in batting average for players that have had 10 at-bats or more.

Now, obviously, this is an unsustainable number for the two to maintain. However, both have shown promising seasons in the past. If both can carry a little of this over into the regular season we could be looking at a nice duo, at least start the season, in the middle infield for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frazier has been more consistent throughout the years with more experience to show for.  Prior to last season, Frazier had a .275 batting average or higher in every season he played. The second baseman has always had a good eye against the fastball but Frazier really struggled against the breaking ball last year.

In 2019, the 29-year-old batted .265 against the 598 breaking balls he saw but in 2020 the average dipped significantly against that pitch to .125 across 213 pitches. When opposing pitchers were ahead in the count 0-2, Frazier saw a 5% jump against the breaking ball from 2019 to 2020. Teams knew that if they could get ahead of him, they would love to pitch something with more movement that he really struggled with. If Frazier continues to struggle against the breaking ball, teams will recognize this and he’ll probably see an even larger jump in percentage versus a pitch he would prefer not to see.

For Frazier to continue this early success he has to work hard early in the count. At least thus far it seems that he hasn’t had as much of an issue with the breaking ball this spring which is a great sign. He has the capability to have a career year at the plate this season.

Newman showed some serious promise back in 2019. The shortstop batted .308/.353/.446 to go along with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Last season Newman lost it all. His numbers dropped across the board. He dipped to .224/.281/.276 while he only slugged one home run and wasn’t able to steal a single base.

After a poor 2020 season Newman finds himself in a battle for the starting shortstop position and he has clearly taken the challenge by the horns. He is second to only Frazier in batting average this spring for batters with more than 5 games played. He has also worked himself four walks on top of that.

Are the steals and home runs there like they were in 2019 for Newman? It is tough to say but one thing is for sure and that is Newman has been doing a great job of getting on base. If Newman can get back to hitting around .300, he very well could see himself as the Pittsburgh Pirates everyday shortstop.

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Ideally, Frazier and Newman both keep hitting and become a middle infield that can combine for a .300+ batting average and help score some runs for Pittsburgh. In the hopeful scenario that this does happen, it would most likely result in a trade at the deadline that would send Frazier elsewhere.

It is only spring training but the Pittsburgh Pirates have been looking sharp and a major reason for that is because of the two in the middle of their infield.