Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh VanMeter Actively Making Team Worse

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Josh VanMeter #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Josh VanMeter #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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It’s no secret that Josh VanMeter hasn’t been good for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it can’t be understated how bad he makes the team when he plays.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not been very good this season. Neither has utility man Josh VanMeter. These are not secrets. However, VanMeter has actively made the Pirates a lot worse than they are. The difference when Josh VanMeter plays and doesn’t play is massive, and the Pirates actually are not a terrible team when he does not make an appearance.

VanMeter has hit just .185/.266/.293 this year with a .252 wOBA and 59 wRC+. VanMeter’s offense has been 41% worse than the league average hitter. VanMeter and league average have the same distance between them as All-Star starter Alejandro Kirk and the league average. He’s just been frustrating at the plate overall. His defense hasn’t been great either. It’s playable, but that isn’t an excuse for his horrid offense.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the Pirates aren’t a terrible team when JVM isn’t playing. When Josh VanMeter makes an appearance in a game, the Pirates have a .367 winning percentage with a 22-38 record. However, when VanMeter doesn’t play, they have a .442 winning percentage with a 22-29 record. Now that’s nothing crazy and still below .500, but that’s a 7.5% difference, and stretched out across an entire season is the difference between over a dozen wins.

VanMeter is the difference between the Pirates trending upward in terms of record and staying on pace for 65 wins. He’s been actively holding them back, stopping them from being a .440-.450 winning percentage team to a .400 winning percentage team. Now it could be worse, but assuming that VanMeter would be replaced by a replacement-level player or better, the Pirates would not have as bad of a record as they would right now if it weren’t for this utility man.

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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Josh VanMeter is not a good player and is actively hurting the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, the negative impact he has had on their season can’t be understated. While the Pirates aren’t a great team when he doesn’t play, they’re significantly better than when he isn’t taking the field in any capacity.

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