Pittsburgh Pirates: Joshua Palacios Pushing for a 2024 Roster Spot

Joshua Palacios has struggled and excelled at points in the 2023 season. Is he worth keeping for the 2024 season?
Sep 13, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios (54)
Sep 13, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios (54) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Does Joshua Palacios have a spot on the Opening Day roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2024?

This past offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Joshua Palacios via the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. He's been up and down from Double-A to Triple-A and the majors this season. However, he has started to settle into being a major league regular.

In 28 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit for a .366/.441/.652 slash line along with 8 home runs and 27 RBIs. In 228 plate appearances in the majors this season Palacios has hit for a .231/.274/.406 slash line with an 81 OPS+, 79 wRC+, 8 home runs, and 33 RBIs.

Prior to the All-Star Break, Palacios had played in 39 games (26 starts) and hit .235 with a .271 on-base percentage, 1 home run and 13 RBIs. His OPS+ was sitting at 71, meaning the average hitter is 29% better than him.

Since the All-Star Break, he has played in 37 games (23 starts), hitting for a .224/.276/.458 slash line and a 91 wRC+/OPS+. He has hit the ball hard in this stretch, hitting 7 home runs and driving in 19 runs. Since the All-Star Break his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity have both been above league average.

Palacios is a pretty good bench player who can fill all of the outfield positions and fills them quite well with some struggle but has been looking good recently. In 426.0 Innings in the outfield, he has 3 errors but has thrown out 5 runners.

He's best in right field but has struggled to field in left and center field. According to Baseball Savant, his arm strength is in the top 89%, being able to throw 91.2 MPH, and also being the top 73% in sprint speed at 28.2 ft/sec.

Palacios has also improved on not striking out as much and has also started to walk more recently. In the last 14 days, he's had 24 at-bats, recording 8 hits, 2 home runs, and 5 RBIs. His batting average has sat at .333 with an OBP of .360 and an OPS+ of 166. Even in the last 28 days, he's hit .231 with 4 home runs and 14 RBIs, along with a .296 OBP. His OPS+ has sat at 99, meaning offensively he's turning into a league-average player.

The only problem that would make it hard to see him on the 2024 roster is that they have Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, and Henry Davis. This means to play outfield he will likely have to fight with Connor Joe, Miguel Andújar along with others in the minors, but if he can continue to keep doing good, I wouldn't be surprised if He's on the team in 2024 because he would have earned it.

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