A look at the five candidates for Opening Day second baseman for the Pirates

Which of the Pirates' five second basemen on the 40-man roster could be the team's Opening Day option?

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Liover Peguero

Liover Peguero was one of the first players the Pirates acquired at the start of their rebuild. Part of the Starling Marte trade, the 23-year-old middle infielder has looked great in Spring Training. In 14 plate appearances, he has four hits, including a double and a home run. He’s also drawn two walks, however more impressively is that he has yet to strikeout. Of course, we are only looking at 14 plate appearances, but strikeouts are something he struggled with last year.

Peguero definitely showed some potential last season. On September third, Peguero was batting .274/.323/.462 with a .336 wOBA and 109 wRC+. Although he had a sub-par 27.9% strikeout rate and 6.2% walk rate, Peguero was hitting for decent pop with a .188 isolated slugging percentage. His 88 MPH exit velocity and 7.1% barrel rate were also about league average.

However, Peguero fell into a massive slump toward the end of the year. His final 84 plate appearances saw him bat a meager .185/.214/.247 with a .204 wOBA and 20 wRC+. His strikeout rate ballooned to a massive 36.9% rate, while his walk rate nose-dived to just 3.6%. Although Peguero was still hitting the ball hard with a 91.4 MPH exit velocity, he wasn’t making quality contact with a 4.1% barrel rate.

Peguero’s defense at second base was far better than at shortstop. He had -4 defensive runs saved but zero outs above average in 208.2 innings at the keystone. But when he took over at shortstop, he had -3 DRS and -1 OAA in 284.1 innings. UZR/150 was also significantly more favorable to Peguero’s glovework at second base at -1.1 compared to -11.9 at SS.

Peguero probably is one of the more likely candidates to take over the role at second base. He has the highest offensive upside, and as long as he can remain a solid defender at second base, he’ll be a viable cog in the line-up. For what it’s worth, his glove has also looked good at 2B in Spring thus far.