2024 Pittsburgh Pirates Rum Bunter staff prediction: Noah Wright

What do I see the Pittsburgh Pirates doing in 2024?

Miami Marlins v Pittsburgh Pirates
Miami Marlins v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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MVP: Bryan Reynolds

I have Bryan Reynolds as the team's MVP next season. 2023 was a down season but for his standards only. He still posted a quality .263/.330/.460 triple-slash and hit 20+ home runs for the third season in a row with 24. Overall, he was still a well above-average batter with a .338 wOBA and 110 wRC+. But I think he can be even better next year, even over Oneil Cruz.

There are a few reasons why I have Bryan Reynolds over Cruz. The first is that Reynolds was very good down the stretch. Through his final 264 plate appearances of the season, which lasted from July 30th through his last game, Reynolds hit .277/.345/.513 with a .363 wOBA and 127 wRC+. Those numbers are almost identical to the .314/.377/.503 triple-slash and 127 wRC+ he posted in his 2019 rookie campaign. Like his rookie season, he also had a similar BB% (8% in 2023 compared to 8.4%) and strikeout rate (23.9% to 22.2%).

The next reason is that Reynolds had some extremely promising underlying numbers. He posted the best exit velocity (90.9 MPH) and barrel rate (11.1%) of his career. His .360 xwOBA was a lot closer to what he posted in his final 264 plate appearances of the season vs his overall season numbers. He had an impressive .490 xSLG% and .280 xBA, both of which nearly mirrored his August through September numbers.

Defensively, Reynolds was a better left fielder than he was a center fielder. He had +2 defensive runs saved, a +1.0 UZR/150, and -3 outs above average. Even though his arm strength was only in the 36th percentile last year, we definitely know he can reel off decent throws. He was above the 75th percentile in both 2021 and 2022. 

I have Bryan Reynolds batting .280/.350/.500 with 20-25 home runs with solid left field defense. I think he's a safe bet to be a quality player once again. His second-half numbers were extremely promising, and the underlying stats are very reflective of those compared to his numbers in the first half of the season.