Position players are poised to make their first appearance at spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a lot intrigue coming from this group. There are certainly some memorable names from last year on the 40-man roster arriving to camp, as well as a few non-roster invitees showing up to Bradenton this year.
The biggest name from this group is of course center fielder Bryan Reynolds, who just recently stated that despite his request to be traded is 100-percent committed to the Pirates as long as he is with the club. Distractions aside, this should be just a preview for what is sure to be a great season for Reynolds.
The all-star center fielder showed in 2022 how talented he really can be as he had a dominant showing defensively, looking like a Gold Glove candidate, as well as putting up numbers at the plate. Reynolds finished as Pittsburgh’s best batter with a stat line of 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .806 OPS while batting .262. Through all the talks of trades during the offseason, Reynolds swears it did not affect his preparation for camp and vows not to be a distraction.
After a successful rookie year, many expect Jack Suwinski to be the team’s opening day left fielder. To put it plainly, the kid hits rockets. In 106 games in 2022, Suwinski was tied in the National League for most homers by a rookie with 19. Three of those homers came in a win against San Francisco in which Suwinski became the only rookie to have a three home run game, with one being a walk off.
Now batting average is something that did not impress with the young outfielder as he was only hitting .202. Meanwhile newly acquired Connor Joe hit .238 last year with 30 more hits. While that may be a knock on Suwinski, he should be getting the most attention in camp from this group of outfielders, but needs to develop a presence at the plate, especially on the road. Joe meanwhile is by no means a star, but does provide steady play when called upon.
As for right field, it is most likely Andrew McCutchen leading the way in that position race. If it was a popularity contest, ‘Cutch would’ve won this long ago, but even just looking at the numbers indicates he’s the best option for the team at this time.
While playing for the Brewers last year McCutchen had 122 hits, with 25 doubles, 69 RBIs and 17 homers. He would have ranked third on the Pirates for home runs, and would have led the team in doubles and RBIs. While he is certainly outside of his prime, there is still a lot the former MVP can provide for this ball club. Defensively he will be a step slower, but he should be more than effective.
This Pirates’ team has a lot of depth in the outfield, with guys like Cal Mitchell also showing bright spots from last year. However, there may not be any real battles during Spring Training. With that being said there is always a competition to be had, and there could be a lot to look forward to from this group of outfielders in 2023.