First base remains a question mark for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but utilizing Connor Joe properly could help the Pirates answer that question
While starting pitching remains the biggest need that the Pittsburgh Pirates need to address this offseason, first base is a major question mark as well. Right now, the Pirates do not have a player on the 40-man roster or in the upper minors capable of being an everyday first baseman at the Major League level.
However, there is a player on the 40-man roster who can help answer the first base question. To do that though, that player would need to be utilized properly by the Pirates in 2024. That player is Connor Joe.
Overall, Joe hit .247/.339/.421 with a 107 wRC+ and OPS+ in a career high 472 plate appearances last season. Joe drew walks at a 10.6% rate, struck out in 23.3% of his trips to the plate, and had the best power season of his career hitting a career high 11 home runs and 46 extra base hits, while also posting a .174 isolated slugging (ISO).
All in all, it was a strong overall season for Joe. In addition to being an above league average hitter, he posted a career best 1.9 fWAR. However, he really made hay against left-handed pitching. This is something the Pirates could look to capitalize on in 2024.
Again left-handed pitching last season, Joe hit .265/.365/.452 with an 11.4% walk rate, 20.7% strikeout rate, and a .187 ISO. He posted a 122 wRC+ against lefties, and these results came in 193 PAs.
Hitting left-handed pitching well is nothing new to Joe. In 435 career PAs against left-handed pitchers, Joe has hit for a .261/.355/.429 slash line with a 109 wRC+ and a .168 ISO. He owns a 21.5% line drive rate and a 33.1% hard-hit rate against lefties.