Pittsburgh Pirates: The Unluckiest Prospects of 2023

Who have been the unluckiest Pirate prospects of 2023?

Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;   Termarr Johnson the Pittsburgh Pirates first round
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Termarr Johnson the Pittsburgh Pirates first round / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Luck is a significant factor in baseball, and here are the Pittsburgh Pirates unluckiest prospects so far this season

Luck is always a major factor in baseball. Not every hard struck ball falls for a hit, while some dribblers can sneak through the infield or be hit in just the right place to go for a hit. For pitchers, sometimes you can only be as effective as your defense allow you to be. Baseball is a sport that players as individuals have little control over. Once the pitch leaves the pitcher’s hand, and once the ball hits the player’s bat, they’re at the mercy of factors well outside of their control.

Many of the Pittsburgh Pirates best prospects this season have gotten snakebit from bad luck. Bad luck can be seen in a few forms. The main one I will be looking at today is batting average on balls in play. Note that BAbip alone doesn’t mean a player is lucky or unlucky. Batted ball rates also play a factor in said number. Still, there are prospects that should be doing better than their surface numbers suggest.

One is Termarr Johnson. Johnson was the Pirates’ first round pick, and over the last month plus, he’s been one of the Pirates’ hottest hitters in the minor leagues. Since July, he’s batting .231/.421/.488 with a .422 wOBA, and 149 wRC+. Typically when you see a guy hit for a lot of power, get in base at a high rate, but have a low batting average, you’d think he’s a three-true-outcomes type hitter. But Johnson has only struck out 19.4% of the time. He also has an outstanding 23.6% walk rate throughout this hot streak. 

Where Johnson has not gotten any help is in the batted ball department. He only has a BAbip of .232. Now part of that is likely caused by a small sample size. BAbip isn’t going to tell the full story when you’re looking at less than 200 plate appearances. But still, .235 suggests that some things haven’t gone his way. Johnson isn’t a ground ball hitter, nor does he have no power. Even a .270 BAbip, which is still well below .300, would make his numbers seem a whole lot better.