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Bucco Breakfast: New Year’s Pirates Resolutions

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s match some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions with some Pittsburgh Pirates. It’ll be fun!

If we were to match the top three New Year’s Resolutions (as per an unscientific study completed by yours truly), and matched them to someone in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization, what would that look like?

Be Healthier

The Pittsburgh Pirates were actually a pretty healthy bunch in 2018. They lost a total of 968 days to the Major League disabled list in 2018, the ninth-fewest in baseball.

So, if we can’t necessarily apply this to the team as a whole, we can take it to the player level and point out two players in particular that need to do their very best to stay on the field in 2019.

Gregory Polanco will presumably miss a large chunk of time at the beginning of next season, which makes the time after his return all that more valuable. Polanco exploded last season after backing off the plate a bit, and he went on to enjoy his finest year to date. His .499 slugging/.245 ISO/123 wRC+ (all career highs) signify an offensive performance the Bucs simply cannot afford to miss.

Francisco Cervelli gets a nod here, but not for reasons you may think. Of course, this all presumes that Cervelli will start the year with Pittsburgh. If he does, the clock will immediately start to tick towards the end of July, when the Pirates will undoubtedly move Cervelli if he has not been moved by then. To maximize return, Cervelli will have to show that he is healthy enough to handle a workload befitting a starting catcher, else Pittsburgh will only have AL teams to look towards as trade partners.

Travel More

Let’s get creative and translate this into baseball terms. The Pittsburgh Pirates would be well served by taking a few more walks to first base. In 2018, their walk rate as a club came in at 7.8 percent, 22nd in baseball and worse than every serious playoff hopeful in both leagues save for the Seattle Mariners.

Some improvement may come from attrition — the departed Josh Harrison and his 4.8 percent walk rate come to mind — yet there are a few stalwarts who will need to be a bit more patient in 2019. Starling Marte (5.8 percent) and Corey Dickerson (3.8 percent) stand out as talents who could stand to walk a bit more. Of course, both had productive seasons regardless and tempered a low walk rate with good strikeout rates as well.

Do Better With Finances

You didn’t think you were going to get out of a New Year’s Resolution slash Pittsburgh Pirates post without talking about finances, did you?

What this means for the club is that every single dollar must be spent wisely, and bring value back to the club. By all accounts, Pittsburgh is off to a good start in this regard with the Jordan Lyles and Lonnie Chisenhall signings. Though hot stove proceedings have quieted to the point where you can hear a pin drop, expect Neal Huntington to still reel in a piece or two — maybe a reliever, maybe some starting pitching depth. The need to get the most out of those dollars is very, very real.

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