Pittsburgh Pirates: Yoshi Tsutsugo is Having a Historically Poor Season
By Noah Wright
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo is having season that will go down as one of the worst in the franchise’s history
When the Pittsburgh Pirates re-signed Yoshi Tsutsugo to a low-risk one-year deal, they probably didn’t think he would have one of the worst offensive seasons in the franchise’s history. They had reason to believe that Tsutsugo would at least provide a solid bat to face right-handed pitching.
During his 2020 rookie season, Tsutusgo turned in league-average results, batting for a .708 OPS, .309 wOBA, and 99 wRC+. After being picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates late last season, Tsutusgo had a .883 OPS, .372 wOBA, and 134 wRC+. However, what he has done in 2022 has been downright atrocious.
Tsutsugo is batting for an abysmal .173/.254/.235 line. He has just a .227 wOBA and 42 wRC+. His wRC+ makes him 58% worse than the league average batter in 2022. The difference between Tsutusgo and league average is the same difference between league average and third basemen Austin Riley and Jose Ramirez. He’s hitting for no power, having just a .062 isolated slugging percentage. That’s the most surprising part about his season, given he had an ISO approaching .200 back in 2020 and provided the Pirates with eight home runs down the stretch in 2021.
Since the integration of baseball in 1947, Tsutsugo has some of the worst numbers in the franchise’s history. Among batters with at least 150 plate appearances in a single season, Tsutsugo has the 68th worst of all time. Now granted, we are looking at small sample sizes and at players from an era when power was next to irrelevant.
So what about his league and ballpark adjusted wRC+? He is currently having the 23rd worst season in the team’s history since integration. His .226 wOBA is the sixth worst in franchise history since integration. He’s just one of just eight batters in franchise history since 1947 to have 150+ plate appearances in a season and an OPS below .500.
Most baseball fans generally consider Chris Davis’s 2018 season to be the worst season since the turn of the century, and overall one of the worst seasons of the live-ball era. Even Davis out-hit Tsutsugo, having a .539 OPS, .239 wOBA, and 46 wRC+. It’s not by a large margin, but Davis was still 4% better than Tsutsugo has been in 2022. Granted, Davis did this through 128 games and 522 plate appearances while Yoshi has just 48 games and 185 plate appearances. However, it is still a testament to how bad Tsutsugo has been this season.
Tsutsugo’s 2022 season is awe-inspiring, but for all the wrong reasons. Nobody expected him to replicate the second half of 2021, but nobody predicted him to have one of the worst seasons in the team’s history. We’re talking about a guy who had a 94 wRC+ between 2020 and 2021, becoming 52% worse than his career average. He already has less than 1.0 fWAR despite playing in less than 50 games.