The Pirates are showing signs of home run power this spring

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

On the offensive side of the game, one of the biggest issues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and their player development has been the lack of power hitters they had produced. Power is expensive, the top-tier free agents who are pushing 30+ home runs a year are going to get nearly $30 million a year from a bigger market team willing to spend. The Pirates need to add power but they will not hand out that kind of money, at least not with current ownership and the current economic climate that Major League Baseball has created.

In 2023 the Pittsburgh Pirates were abysmal in terms of home run power. The team was 28th in Major League Baseball hitting a total of 159 home runs. The only teams behind them were the Cleveland Guardians and the Washington Nationals. Now obviously taking Cruz out of the lineup hurt the overall production. He probably would have given at least another 15 home runs from the shortstop position than the team had from the fill-ins. Even if you add another 15 the Bucs would still be in the bottom third of the League.

However, may that will change for the 2024 season. So far this Spring things are looking to be positive in terms of homerun power. The Pirates are currently leading all of Spring Training, both the Grape Fruit League and the Cactus League, in home runs with 21 in just 11 games. The teams currently behind them are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, and Philadelphia Phillies. All those teams have played more games than the Pirates as well.

I wrote a little bit about this last week: Do Spring stats matter? In short, no there are too many variables in play such as not playing full games, working on specific things, opposing pitchers working on specific things, and of course just in general quality of competition. Plenty of prospects from the Pittsburgh Pirates have appeared as is the case with other teams. So sometimes it is Big League players going against young prospects, which obviously is a different scenario.

My caveat is that you take the good with the good and forget about the bad. The Pirates are leading Spring in home runs, there is no denying that.

Is this good news? Absolutely, because they need power and maybe some of the potential power is developing into game power. Also, if the Pirates were in the bottom 5 in home runs would that not be raising red flags? Yellow flags at the very least. So it is okay to feel optimistic that the team could have a better year hitting the ball out of the ballpark.