Center Field - Nate McLouth
We finally get to our first Pirates player who was drafted/signed by the team, rather than traded for or acquired via other methods. Outfielder Nate McLouth was a 25th round pick by the Bucs in the 2000 MLB draft. Like many of the players we’ve talked about today, McLouth was a light-hitting, contact-oriented, speedy player who hit for little power and didn’t draw walks. However, unlike many of the players we have talked about, he would eventually grow into his power.
McLouth made his debut in 2005, however after batting .258/.351/.459 with a walk rate above 10% (10.1%), an ISO of .201, and wRC+ of 110 through 382 plate appearances in 2007, McLouth earned a starting job in the Pirates’ outfield the following year, which ended up being the best year of his career.
Now the Pirates’ starting center fielder, McLouth batted .276/.356/.497, with a .364 wOBA, and 121 wRC+. McLouth’s power fully blossomed as he cranked 27 round-trippers, racked up 46 doubles, and had a .211 isolated slugging percentage. On top of that, McLouth cut his strikeout rate down to just 13.6% while maintaining a quality BB% to 9.5%. McLouth was also a 20/20 batter as he stole 23 bases.
Unlike Wilson, who never won a Gold Glove despite being an outstanding defensive shortstop, McLouth won the award while being a poor defensive outfielder. McLouth was awarded the 2008 National League center field Gold Glove award, despite having -23 defensive runs saved and a -12.8 UZR/150. McLouth had a -2.1 dWAR as well.
While McLouth had his issues with fielding, he opened the 2009 season as the Pirates’ starting CF, that was until a young prospect by the name of Andrew McCutchen made his arrival. The Pirates then traded McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, and Gorkys Hernandez, and he continued to have a solid 2009 campaign. He ended the year with a .788 OPS, .348 wOBA, and 112 wRC+.
McLouth only played about half of each of the following two seasons, registering an 82 wRC+ in the process. The Pirates then resigned McLouth in the 2011-2012 off-season, however he only appeared in 34 games while posting an OPS+ in the single digits before being released at the end of May. He then locked on with the Baltimore Orioles where he would spend the rest of 2012 and 2013, posting about league average numbers (.742 OPS, 102 OPS+). McLouth’s final season was in 2014, playing a 4th outfield role for the Washington Nationals.