Pittsburgh Pirates: Very Early 2022 Opening Day Lineup Preview

Cody Flavell
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Indianapolis center fielder Travis Swaggerty, right, celebrates after hitting a home run in the first inning off Iowa starting pitcher Joe Biagini at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.20210504 Iowacubs
Indianapolis center fielder Travis Swaggerty, right, celebrates after hitting a home run in the first inning off Iowa starting pitcher Joe Biagini at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.20210504 Iowacubs /

Left Fielder: Travis Swaggerty

This is my going-out-on-a-limb pick with the Opening Day lineup. I know Travis Swaggerty hasn’t had many at-bats at the Triple-A level. A shoulder surgery early in the season derailed his chance to be in Pittsburgh this season.

However, he is already 24-years-old. Being a college draft pick, Swaggerty’s pure hitting ability afforded him a chance to be fast-tracked to the major leagues without a ton of minor league seasoning.

If Swaggerty plays winter ball and then comes to Spring Training and rakes, there is no reason why he can’t be in left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 31st at PNC Park. He is a plus-defender and can play the rather spacious left field for the Pirates.

One of Neal Huntington’s final first round selections, Swaggerty can seize a wide open left field competition with a strong spring training. That would sure bring some extra excitement to PNC Park to open the year.

Center Fielder: Bryan Reynolds

When the Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen, I’m not sure they pictured Reynolds becoming the player he has blossomed into. Certainly, they knew they were getting a potential outfield starter but a cornerstone on their eventual winning teams? I don’t know that they figured that would be the case.

Alas, Reynolds proved he can be a huge veteran piece of the Pirate future. He has become a pure hitter and shown some impressive pop at the plate.

His .296 batting average with 24 home runs and 88 RBI on an offensively inept team has made Reynolds a budding star in the major leagues.

He has done a fantastic job in centerfield making plenty of flashy plays as well as all the routine ones. Reynolds will hold done that spot for a long time.

Right Fielder: Anthony Alford

Another one of Cherington’s former prospects at his other spots, Anthony Alford was claimed by the Pirates last season. He looked outstanding in his few games before an injury derailed his season.

The Opening Day centerfielder this season, Alford started so poorly that he was demoted to AAA. He raked in Triple-A and worked his way back to Pittsburgh.

In the last month, Alford is batting .286 with a .926 OPS with all five of his home runs on the campaign coming in that time span as well.

It seems like whatever Alford worked on in Tripe-A has clicked and potentially allowed him to show a glimpse of why he was formerly a top prospect in the Blue Jay system.

Maybe he can parlay all of that into an opportunity to be an everyday starter for Pittsburgh next year. It has been a rotation carousel of players that have graced the outfield for the Pirates in 2021. Remember when Dustin Fowler and Troy Stokes Jr. made the initial roster? Yeah, me either.

Keeping Ben Gamel, instead of trading him, would be a wise decision as well.

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