Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Players Who Can Elevate the Lineup if Healthy in 2024

These three Pirates players could be major contributors to the team's 2024 line-up if they are 100% ready to go.
Sep 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen
Sep 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Rowdy Tellez

Rowdy Tellez entered 2023 looking to build off his 2022 season, where he smacked 35 homers and had a wRC+ of 110. Tellez was a shift victim, and with the new rules limiting how far teams could shift their infielders, it looked like he could have an improved campaign with fewer infielders on his pull side. For the first two months of the year, Tellez was taking advantage of the new rules and looked like a new batter.

Tellez's first 188 plate appearances of the season saw him bat .244/.330/.500 with a .348 wOBA and 118 wRC+. Tellez had slugged a dozen home runs with a .262 batting average on balls in play, a significant uptick from 2022 when he clocked in with a .215 BABIP. Tellez may have struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances, but he also saw his walk rate go up to 11.7%. While his 88.4 MPH exit velocity and 40.3% hard-hit rate were down from his 2022 season he still owned a quality 11% barrel rate.

However, over his next 100 plate appearances, Tellez would register a wRC+ of just 9. That means he was 91% worse than the league-average batter. He may have lowered his strikeout rate to 22%, but his walk rate took a significant hit, dropping to 5%. Tellez's exit velocity rose to 90.6 MPH, which was much closer to his 2022 rate, but his barrel percentage took a massive drop to 4.1%.

Something was wrong with Tellez, and it turned out he had a forearm injury. Tellez was expected to come back sometime soon after the All-Star break, but he suffered another setback. During practice in mid-July, Tellez injured his finger while shagging flyballs. He got his left ring finger stuck between the outfield padding, causing his nail bed to tear and having to undergo 17 stitches. This caused him to miss another two to three weeks. Tellez would return in late August but was clearly not the same batter. He would only receive 63 more plate appearances and bat for a wRC+ of just 76.

Tellez should be fully healthy to go for the 2024 season. I think what you saw from Tellez during the first couple of months of the season is what you should expect to see from him. Missing time with a forearm injury and then having to undergo 17 stitches on his finger definitely held back what he could have done in 2023.

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