Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Favorable Baseball Savant Statcast Comparisons

Mar 5, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana (41) bats in
Mar 5, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana (41) bats in / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
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Ji-Man Choi

The other end of the first base platoon also gets favorable comparisons from Baseball Savant. Ji-Man Choi was acquired by the Bucs this past off-season from the Tampa Bay Rays. The first baseman is coming off a down year (for his standard) but certainly has some potential to rebound next season. Like Santana, he was also hurt by the shift.

In 419 plate appearances, Choi batted .233/.341/.388 with a .322 wOBA and 116 wRC+. Choi still registered above-average numbers, given his strong 13.8% walk rate and his slightly above-average .154 isolated slugging percentage. Choi struck out 29.4% of the time, but that was the only major blemish on his season. Choi is still a very powerful hitter who was in the 93rd percentile of exit velocity and 88th percentile of hard-hit rate.

Two of the five comparisons that Baseball Savant makes are 2018 and 2019 Yasmani Grandal. During those two seasons, Grandal batted .243/.366/.467 with a 123 wRC+. One of Grandal's former teammates, Max Muncy, is another player Savant compares Choi to, specifically his 2019 season. During that year, Muncy batted .251/.374/.515 with a 133 wRC+. Another comp they make is 2022 Austin Slater, who batted .264/.366/.408 with a 124 wRC+ that season. The worst player that Baseball Savant compares Choi to is 2018 Jackie Bradley Jr. when he slashed .234/.314/.403 with a 90 wRC+.

Even with JBJ's poor season mixed in there, the mean slash line and wRC+ between the five seasons and four players is .248/.355/.448 with a 118 wRC+. That triple slash is almost identical to what Choi did from 2018 through 2021 (.249/.354/.449).

Keep in mind that Choi was shifted on in about 84% of his plate appearances. He had just a .304 wOBA with the shift on vs. a .415 wOBA with no shift. It's reasonable to expect him to rebound to his 2018-2021 self. He may even out-perform that four-season stretch given he'll mostly face right-handed pitching.

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