Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Acquisition Targets Based On DRC+

Who are some buy-low candidates the Pirates could go after based on DRC+?

Aug 30, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn (25) rounds
Aug 30, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn (25) rounds / Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
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Dominic Smith - 113 DRC+

Dominic Smith was a former New York Mets' top prospect, and at one point, it looked like he could be in their long-term plans. From 2019-2020, Smith was a .299/.366/.571 slasher with a .390 wOBA and 156 wRC+ in 396 plate appearances. However, since then, Smith has been a poor hitter and hasn’t been able to come close to replicating these numbers.

Last year with the Washington Nationals, Smith owned a .254/.326/.366 triple-slash. While his batting averag and OBP were about league average, he hit for very little power. His isolated slugging percentage was the 10th lowest rate among all qualified hitters in 2023. His raw power was also poor, ranking below the tenth percentile of exit velocity and hard-hit rate. But on the plus side, he did have an 8% walk rate and a strikeout rate of just 15.5%. The league average is 8.6% and 22.7%.

So why consider Smith? He was about a league average batters against right-handed pitching, owning a .263/.338/.398 line, and 102 wRC+ against opposite-handed pitching. His xwOBA of .322 was significantly higher than his actual wOBA of .306. But Smith owned a DRC+ of 113, which was higher than in either 2019 (102) or 2020 (101), which have thus far been his best seasons at the plate.

Smith also brings some solid defense over at first base. He had +5 defensive runs saved last year, a career-high watermark. But he also was looked upon favorably by outs above average at +1. If Smith can live up to his DRC+, which would make him an above-average hitter, he’d be a solid pick-up, considering he may not even get a major league deal.

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