Yoshi Tsutsugo was expected to be a huge power threat for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season but is off to a slow start
This past offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates made a move to keep one of their best power hitters from down the stretch in the 2021 season in Pittsburgh. This move came when the team re-signed first base/designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo, who became a free agent at the end of the season, to a 1-year deal worth $4 million.
When Tsutsugo was re-signed it was expected that he would play a key role in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That has been the case thus far this season as he has been the team’s primary clean up hitter through their first 16 games of the season.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a solid 8-8 start, it has come despite Tsutsugo struggling at the plate. Through his first 58 plate appearances, this season Tsutsugo is hitting for a .191/.293/.213 slash line to go with a 56 wRC+.
Tsutsugo is a player who is known as drawing a lot of walks while hitting for power. The walks and on-base ability has been there for Tsutsugo who has walked at an above league rate of 13.8% thus far this season.
However, the power has been non-existent for Tsutsugo. The left-handed hitting Tsutsugo has an isolated slugging (ISO) of just .021 to start the season. This comes as a result of one double being the lone extra base hit for Tsutsugo thus far.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in need of Tsutsugo’s power coming around. Their 11 home runs rank 24th in MLB. Entering play on Sunday the Pirates ranked 26th in MLB in ISO (.117) and 17th in slugging (.354). Power has been an issue for the Pirate offense thus far and is a reason why they have struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
Getting Tsutsugo’s power stroke going would be a huge boost for the Pirate offense. At one point in Pittsburgh’s most recent series against the Cubs, Tsutsugo was stuck in a 3-for-30 with 13 strikeouts stretch. Since then he has started to string together better at-bats, which could be a sign of things coming around for Tsutsugo.
If the Pirates can get Tsutsugo’s power stroke going it would be a huge step toward continuing their early season success. If his power does not come around then the Pirates could look to modify their lineup.
With Daniel Vogelbach off to a strong start he should continue ot have designated hitter locked down. If Tsutsugo continues to struggle then Michael Chavis could see his role in the Pirate lineup grow.