Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Outlook: Connor Joe

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After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 first baseman/outfielder Connor Joe is back with the organization and should carve out a role this season

With the 39th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected University of San Diego hitter Connor Joe. Despite being a high draft pick by the Pirates, Joe never played a game for the organization.

In August 2017 Joe was traded to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for utility man Sean Rodriguez. Joe never played in the majors for the Braves, either, but has gone on to earn major league playing time with the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies.

Earlier this offseason general manager Ben Cherington swung a trade to bring Joe back to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back in December the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Nick Garcia to the Rockies in exchange for Joe.

This raises the question, what will Joe's role be with the Pirates this season?

In his three MLB seasons, Joe has accumulated 694 plate appearances in 182 games. Joe has hit for a .247/.346/.385 slash line, to go with a 92 wRC+ and an OPS+ of 94. He owns a strong 11.8% walk rate while having struck out in just 20.6% of his trips to the plate.

Overall, these numbers paint a hitter who is a slightly below average hitter that gets on base at an above average rate. Joe's ability to get on base is one that can help him carve out a role with the Pirates in 2023.

Joe's ability as a hitter against left-handed should also help him find a role with the club this season. In 242 career PAs against left-handed pitchers, Joe owns a .258/.347/.411 slash line with an 11.2% walk rate. Rather it's platooning with Jack Suwinski, starting at first base, or starting at designated hitter, Joe will likely be in the lineup each time the Pirates face a left-handed starting pitcher.

His ability to get on base could also get Joe more regular at-bats during the 2023 season. He owns a .345 on-base percentage and a 12.2% walk rate against right-handed pitching in his MLB career, more than good enough to play with regularity against righties.

It remains to be seen what the role will be, but Joe should be able to carve out a role with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. He could be used to get on base, to platoon agaisnt left-handed pitching, and can play multiple positions. All of those qualities will get a player plenty of at-bats during a MLB season.

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