Obscure Former Pittsburgh Pirates: Outfielder Xavier Paul
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates early-2010s outfields housed some pretty notable names in the franchise's history, but Xavier Paul, who's become forgotten in the team's history, was not one of those names
The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates were an interesting team. The Pirates started to form a coherent team after a horrendous 2010 season, and had the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Jose Tabata as young and upcoming pieces. But the 2011 team had some very obscure names. One of those names is outfielder Xavier Paul.
The Los Angeles Dodgers originally drafted Paul in the 4th round in the 2003 draft. Although the outfielder was never a top prospect, he performed admirably for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2008 through 2010. Paul slashed .320/.380/.502 with a healthy 8% walk rate and 18% K-rate. Paul showed some power and speed, with 22 home runs and 32 stolen bases through 885 plate appearances. Overall, he had a well above average .382 wOBA, and 124 wRC+.
However, that performance never carried over into the big leagues. Paul slashed just .233/.280/.329 through 160 plate appearances with LA from 2009 and part of 2011. Paul had a respectable 20.6% strikeout rate, but he walked at a mere 6.3% mark. The Dodgers eventually put him on waivers in late-April of 2011, and that’s when the Pirates claimed Paul.
While Paul appeared in 121 games for the 2011 Bucs, he was mostly used in a bench outfielder role, only stepping to the plate 251 times. While he was given an extended opportunity, he only batted .254/.293/.349 with a .282 wOBA, and 77 wRC+. Paul’s 5.7% walk rate and 22.7% strikeout rate both were not anything to be too proud of, and he had a sub-.100 isolated slugging percentage. It also didn’t help he graded out as a negative defender, with -2 defensive runs saved and just a -7.1 UZR/150.
The Pirates let Paul go following the 2011 season. He latched on with the Cincinnati Reds for 2012 and 2013, where he wasn’t an awful hitter. He only had 335 plate appearances between the two seasons, but he hit .264/.350/.338 with a 111 wRC+. Paul drew a walk in 10.7% of his plate appearances, a massive uptick from his time with the Dodgers and Pirates, while maintaining a solid 21.2% strikeout rate. He even hit for some respectable power with a .154 ISO. But his value was definitely bogged down with the -12 DRS and -13.4 UZR/150 he racked up in the outfield.
Paul would make a brief 14 game appearance with the Arizona Diamondbacks before heading to the Mexican League in 2016. Paul would make it back to affiliated ball in 2017 as he signed with the Texas Rangers, but ultimately only played nine games for their rookie ball and Triple-A affiliates. The last time Paul appeared in pro ball was in 2018 with the Atlantic League Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.