Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Pirates


Let it be known that, against all odds, and despite a better season, the Pittsburgh Pirates still ended 2022 with 100 losses. Interestingly, though, the Pirates technically ended the season in 4th place, as the Reds, who had been leading the Pirates for a while, fell apart and tied them for last with 62-100. So technically, even though the Pirates lost 100 games, they didn't finish in fifth. 

That really says a lot about Pirates baseball right now. The Pirates' 2022 season was an improvement because they lost 1 less game than they did last year and finished in fourth rather than fifth. It's like 'well I guess Jaws 3 was better than Jaws 4'.

The Pirates did this season without Gregory Polanco, Colin Moran, Richard Rodriguez or Neil Walker. Over the course of the season they lost Jose Quintana, Dan Vogelbach and Chris Stratton, all of whom came over to help. Bryan Reynolds already has said he wants to be traded, and even people in this post are already gone. As dire as Pirates baseball has been, it's not looking like it's gonna get much better immediately.

Ben Gamel appeared in the fourth-most games of any Pirate with 115. This team could not get 150 games out of anybody, and the most was Bryan Reynolds' 145. THAT is a statistic. Gamel was...fine. Hit .232, 46 RBIs. Serviceable replacement player.
2023 Prediction: Honestly the Pirates should re-sign him, but he'll probably be a depth guy on a minor league deal.

Kevin Newman missed a ton of playing time with an injury, which probably factored into the Pirates realizing they didn't need him too greatly and trading him to the other 100-loss team in the NL Central [the one that has a pitching staff]. Newman still hit .274 with 79 hits in 79 games, and a 1.1 WAR. The Pirates still started people like Diego Castillo and Rodolfo Castro at 2nd in his wake, and will likely continue to do so.
2023 Prediction: Well he's blocked at 2nd by Jonathan India, so maybe he'll get some starts at short now that Farmer's gone? I see him as a depth guy, but he could really work in Cincinnati. 

The big rookie that wasn't Oneil Cruz that turned heads this year in Pittsburgh was Jack Suwinski, who had a starting spot in the outfield before he knew it and was decent as a defender. He was more suited to the plate, hitting 19 homers and 38 RBIs in 106 games, though his ability to hit for average has not surfaced yet. 
2023 Prediction: So...let's say Reynolds leaves. Your power hitters are Carlos Santana, who's a temporary guy, Ji-Man Choi and probably Cruz if he shifts into gear. I genuinely think Suwinski's gonna be really well relied upon as a power bat next year, and might lead the team in homers.

In the absence of Newman and Castillo's better numbers, the Pirates relied upon Rodolfo Castro as an infield piece, and I think he did well for himself. He's a solid defender, solid on the base paths, and hit 11 homers and 59 hits in 71 games. Perhaps he's most notable as the guy whose cellphone slid out of his pocket on a dive to third, but he's young. And luckily the 2018 Phillies clubhouse Fortnite champion will be in the same infield as him next year. 
2023 Prediction: He's gonna be starting somewhere, probably second base. And he might vie for a gold glove.

In exchange for Quintana and Stratton, the Pirates received Johan Oviedo, a pitching prospect the Cardinals had no idea what to do with. Oviedo was brilliant in his first 7 starts as a Pirate, with a 3.23 ERA and 28 strikeouts. Oviedo joins Roansy Contreras and Mitch Keller as consistent, hard-throwing younger guys who can keep this team afloat next year.
2023 Prediction: Will have the closest thing to a great season of any Pirates starter next year.

The Pirates also called up Luis Ortiz towards the end of the season. Ortiz had struck out 138 people in the minors, with a 4.56 ERA between two levels. Once the majors came calling, despite losing 2 games of the 4 he started, he struck out 17. This guy seems to be a nasty flamethrower, and with the Reds having a rotation full of them, the Pirates need a guy like him to compete.
2023 Prediction: Why do I see him blowing out his arm by June, though?

Tomorrow, a couple members of The Rangers Team Before DeGrom Got There.

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