Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining the First Two Months of 2021 Season

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 20: Gregory Polanco #25 and Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates react after their 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 20: Gregory Polanco #25 and Kevin Newman #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates react after their 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on May 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 16: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 16: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Outfield

The 2020 season of Bryan Reynolds is looking much more like a sophomore slump in the weirdest Major League Baseball season ever. So far, he’s been an outstanding hitter. In 185 trips to the plate, the switch hitter is batting .298/.389/.472 with a .375 wOBA, 138 wRC+ and a MLB leading 16 doubles. Reynolds has increased his walk rate by nearly 2% from last year, going from 10.1% to 11.9%. He’s also significantly decreased his strikeout rate from 27.4% to 22.7%. Reynolds has been about an average fielder so far this year with 0 DRS, a -0.4 UZR, and +0.3 range runs above average. But he is in the top 91st percentile of OAA.

Gregory Polanco has also gotten fairly regular playing time this year, albeit with poor results. So far in 135 plate appearances, the former top prospect is only hitting .217/.289/.358 with a .282 wOBA and 78 wRC+. He’s still walking at a solid 9.6% rate and has a well above average hard-hit rate of 50%, but nothing can seem to go his way. He’s also been a poor defender in right with -5 DRS, a -11.4 UZR/150, and 0 range runs above average.

The last outfield spot has been a mixed bag, to say the least. The Pittsburgh Pirates have essentially been plugging and playing guys, trying to find a suitable third outfielder. The team opened the season with Anthony Alford as one of their starting outfielders. But after failing to collect a hit in his first 23 trips to the plate, the Bucs decided to DFA the former prospect.

Then it was Dustin Folwer’s turn. Fowler also struggled, having just 7 hits and one extra-base hit in 46 plate appearances. Since his DFA, the Pittsburgh Pirates have given Ka’ai Tom, Troy Stokes Jr., Ben Gamel and Wilmer Difo all a chance in the outfield. While this year isn’t a win-now season, it’d be nice to get some semblance of regularity in the third outfield spot.

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