In an era when analytics can take a lot of the guesswork out of a baseball club, how important is it for a club like the Pittsburgh Pirates to have a clear cut sense of leadership?
The full link is down below, but the lead premise of Fangraphs’ David Laurilla’s latest Sunday Notes column struck a chord with me.
That being, how do we quantify the role of a “leader” on a baseball club?
And, who would play that role on the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates?
First, let’s set the baseline for what a “leader” might be. Though you could simply point to a productive player as being a “leader,” there is simply quite a bit more to it. From the managers Laurila talked to, it’s more of an esoteric ability. Here, Nationals manager Dave Martinez illustrated why two players at two drastically different level of accomplishment can be leaders:
“We told some of our other players, just watch what they do,” Martinez said of [Anthony] Rendon and [Juan] Soto. “And they started doing it and started getting better at it. So these guys… Juan is different, he really is. I’ve never seen a 19-year-old break down pitching and hitting and mechanics like he does. He’s a special kid.”
In that light, one could point to Corey Dickerson as a possible leader on the 2019 Bucs. Dickerson came into 2018 with serious questions as to whether or not he could handle an every day defensive role; All he did in response was work hard enough at the left field position to win a Gold Glove award.
What about Trevor Williams as a leader for the pitchers? Williams solidified his spot as a mid-rotation starting pitcher by trusting his ability and working constantly at his craft.
You’ll notice a theme with these two: namely, that neither had traditionally eye-opening/hard to ignore statistics, yet both were at near-All Star level performance. They got there by maximizing their talent.
Let us know in the comments who you think might serve as a leader on the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates.