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Pirates 2022 season review: Outfield

Reynolds and Suwinski powered the Bucs outfield

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates outfield had its fair share of players seeing time in one of the three defensive positions.

From the team’s best hitter in Bryan Reynolds to players you might have forgotten were once on the team, the Pirates may have found a few long-term solutions to depend on.

In our next installment of Pittsburgh Pirates Post-Season Reviews, we take a look at the team’s outfielders.

Bryan Reynolds

Reynolds brushed aside a slow start to 2022 and posted the best offensive numbers of any Pirate. The 27-year-old center fielder earned a 3.0 WAR by hitting 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .806 OPS while batting .262.

A switch hitter with an impressive glove and range to travel a spacious PNC Park outfield, Reynolds has molded into the Pirates’ most valuable and dependable player attempting to drive the team to better days.

Reynolds is under contract for three more seasons through 2025. He signed a two-year, $13.5 million extension prior to this season and may seek a long-term deal, continually stating his interest in remaining a Pirate.

Ben Gamel

Gamel was hampered by a left hamstring strain in late May that limited him from playing a full season. Gamel, 30, statistically performed stronger in 2022 than in his first campaign in Pittsburgh last year.

He hit 20 doubles, nine home runs and drove in 46 runs in 115 games, four more than in 2021 when he also hit eight long balls and 26 RBI.

Gamel’s defense in left field is an added plus for his sustainability on the roster. Now a free agent for the second-straight year following a solid year in Pittsburgh, keeping Gamel would take playing time away from a plethora of young players.

Jack Suwinski

Jack-Jack does nothing but hit home runs at PNC Park. Literally.

Suwinski finished tied for first among rookies in the National League with Atlanta’s Michael Harris by hitting 19 home runs in 106 games.

The 24-year-old lefty, who played primarily in left or right, drove in 38 runs but hit barely over the Mendoza Line at .202 in 326 at-bats. He was an entirely different player away from home. Swuinski slashed .282/.373/.609 in 56 games at PNC Park including 16 of his 19 homers and 31 of his 38 runs batted in.

Swuinski, who hit three home runs in a game against San Francisco at home, hit only three all season on the road and drove in seven runs playing in 50 games.

Consistency on the road will be critical for Suwinski to crack the lineup on road trips. Acquired in the Adam Frazier trade from San Diego, Swuinski should receive every opportunity to prove himself entering spring.

Best of the Rest

Reynolds, Gamel, and Suwinski were the most noticeable outfielders during the past season. Cal Mitchell also showed flashes of potential, including a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth in St. Louis to break up Miles Mikolas’ no-hitter.

Acquired off waivers from the New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar made an immediate impact as both a left fielder and defensive hitter. He hit two doubles, one triple and drove in nine runs in nine games to end 2022.

Greg Allen also played 46 games to conclude the year before being let go, hitting .186 in 118 at-bats. The veteran could not earn trade value to be dealt and ultimately took plate appearances away from players who had a better chance to make next year’s team.

Remember these Guys?

It can be easy to forget some players during the course of a 162-game season. Here are some guys you might have forgotten about: Anthony Alford (two games), Hoy Park (both as an infielder and occasional outfielder), Travis Swaggerty (five games), and Canaan Smith-Njigba (three games before season-ending wrist surgery).

Don’t forget about one player the Bucs should never have parted with, Bligh Madris, who won MVP of the Triple-A championship for the Tampa Bay Rays following being DFA’d by Pittsburgh.

The Pirates outfield was one of the most stable areas of the field in a constantly changing shuffle, largely thanks to the anchor-down of Bryan Reynolds, and may continue if he sticks around and Suwinski and Andujar improve.

2023 will be the most critical season for Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton to prove their plan is working to end the Pirates’ rebuild, and it starts with a strong off-season. Locking up Reynolds is one of the important factors to prove if the commitment is for real.