Pittsburgh Pirates: Way Too Early Opening Day Lineup Projection

Sep 26, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) hits a single against the Cincinnati Reds during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes (13) hits a single against the Cincinnati Reds during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 25: Rodolfo Castro #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates singles in the second inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 25, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 25: Rodolfo Castro #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates singles in the second inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 25, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Second Base – Rodolfo Castro

Rodolfo Castro may have struggled in the first half of the season, but after getting recalled in August, the infielder put on a quality display of power. Castro has always been a decent prospect in the minor league system and got a good chance at playing time in 2022. Now, he’s projected to take over a regular role in 2023.

Overall on the year, Castro batted .233/.299/.427 with a .315 wOBA and 102 wRC+. He hit 11 home runs in 278 plate appearances (an average of 24 in a full year) with a .194 isolated slugging percentage. The downside is Castro’s plate discipline was not great, to say the least. He had a 7.9% walk rate, which isn’t terrible, but his 26.6% strikeout rate is well below average.

But these numbers don’t tell the full story, especially given how well he did in August and September. The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled Castro in early August after sending him to Triple-A in July. Castro took the opportunity and ran with it, batting .247/.310/.478 with a .339 wOBA and 119 wRC+. Castro was one of the best power hitters down the stretch. His .231 isolated slugging percentage ranked top 30 among Major League hitters with 200+ plate appearances from the start of August through the end of the season.

The downside is the Pittsburgh Pirates are running out a mediocre glove at the keystone. In only 236 innings had -2 defensive runs saved, -9.2 UZR/150, and -3 outs above average. The Pirates do have much better defenders to put at second base, like Diego Castillo, Tucupita Marcano, and Jared Triolo, who could push Castro to designated hitter. But given the Pirates do not have a fantastic DH option, you can’t rule that out.

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