After an abysmal offensive start to the season Kevin Newman has rebounded and appears to be finishing the season strong at the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last week we broke down the defensive strides that Kevin Newman has made with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. These defensive strides have taken Newman from a poor defensive shortstop to being a legitimate Gold Glove Award candidate.
Despite the big defensive strides that Newman has made this season, overall, his offensive production has been poor. In fact, at one point Newman, based on wRC+, was the worst hitter in Majors League Baseball.
Overall this season Newman has hit for a .226/.264/.313 slash line to go with a 55 wRC+, .087 isolated slugging (ISO), and a 5.6% extra base hit rate. These results have come in 502 plate appearances across 135 games played with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While, overall, Newman has struggled at the plate this season, he is trending upward offensively. Dating back to the start of August Newman has accumulated 129 PAs. In these 129 PAs he has hit for a .258/.294/.417 slash line. This includes a wRC+ of 88, ISO of .158 and an extra base hit rate of 10.9%
These numbers are still below league average with league average wRC+ being 100. That said, it is a huge improvement for Newman. He has also hit for quality power as a shortstop, especially one that has never hit for much power in his professional career, during this stretch.
During this stretch Newman has a 22.1% hard-hit rate and a line-drive rate of 21.3%, both improvements over the first four months of the season. His ground ball rate has dropped nearly 8% points to 38.9% which has also contributed to the improvements at the plate from Newman.
This is not to say that Newman is all of a sudden becoming a long-term building block or anything of the sort for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, if Newman can hit the way he has since the start of August while maintaining his defensive improvements from this season, he could become a valuable utility player for the Pirates.
With his offensive rebound to finish the season Newman will likely begin the 2022 season as the starting shortstop for the Pirates. If he can hit this way over the course of a full season to go with the defensive he has played this season he could be a 2+ WAR player which can bring value to a team.