Pittsburgh Pirates Position Grades - Outfielders

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It won't be an easy road for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season.  While I do believe success is within the realm of possibility within the next 2-4 seasons, I do not believe we are there just yet.  There is simply too much youth on this team as of now, but that’s okay, because it looks like very talented youth. 

However, instead of just assuming this particular 2022 roster isn’t talented enough for success yet, let’s work through the position groups together over the next week or two.

You can find all of Antonio's position group gradings as they roll out over time here: 

Pittsburgh Pirate Grades

Outfield - B

The Pittsburgh Pirates outfield situation is messy.  The obvious centerpiece of the Pirates outfield this season is the center fielder, Bryan Reynolds.  Reynolds has been rumored in trade talks about every day since the end of last season.  Since I don't swear in articles on here, it's bull-malarkey.  GM's pick up the phone, but Reynolds was never going to be traded.

So since we're passed that, we can rightfully talk about Reynolds as the best outfielder and the best hitter in this lineup.  He is an All-Star outfielder and I expect him to remain one for the foreseeable future.  Aside from the fake 2020 season where there were far too many variables to take anyone's stats seriously, Reynolds has hit like a star outfielder.  So even though the season is starting late, it should not affect Reynolds the way in which the oddities of 2020 did.  

If we had an outfield full of Bryan Reynolds', this grade would be an easy A+.  He is the best player on the team, and I believe among the Top 50 baseball players in Major League Baseball.  It's the reason why everyone keeps calling GM Ben Cherington to ask about him.

Unfortunately, the Pirates do not have an outfield full of Reynolds', so we must evaluate all that we do have.  And that's where the messiness begins.  It is not known just yet, who will be starting in the Pirates outfield come Opening Day.  

The front runners coming into Spring Training were Anthony Alford and Ben Gamel.  Gamel still remains a likely starter, as he has performed well this spring.  He is batting .313 with two homeruns and three RBI in just 16 at-bats.  He also showed flashes of solid play throughout last season.  Gamel should most definitely start the season in left field for the Pirates.

Alford just simply should not make the big leagues out of Spring Training.  He has just one hit in 13 at-bats this spring.  Now, I don't base a lot on Spring Training when a good player is playing bad or a bad player is playing good.  You cannot look too much into that.  However, when a player who performed very poorly in the big leagues last season continues to struggle in the spring, I do look more into that.  If Alford makes the team out of Spring Training, this outfield group is significantly worse.

However,  29-year old Greg Allen, who the Pirates claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees this offseason, would be an upgrade over Alford.  Allen is a career .241 hitter, but he batted .270 in 48 plate appearances in 2021.  He also has great base running ability and has stolen four bases this spring.  In the fifteen times he was on base last season, Allen stole five bases, and stole 21 bases in 2018.  Base running isn't as coveted of a skill as it used to be, but since Allen has shown a much greater ability to get on base than Alford, Allen bring much much more to the plate than Alford.  

Beyond these four, there are several players who may get the stray inning in the outfield.  Yoshi Tsutsugo, Michael Chavis, Cole Tucker, and even Oneil Cruz may get a few innings in the outfield one day.  

When Yoshi is in right field, he is a liability in the field.  He looks unsteady out there and is better off at 1st base or DH.  Chavis can play anywhere so he isn't the defensive liability of Yoshi, but doesn't bring much to the table from the offensive side unless he's on one of his short spurts of power hitting.  The Tucker experiment in the outfield could work, and with how he has hit this spring, I wouldn't mind seeing the Pirates use the outfield to get him into the lineup a little more.  

Until this is sorted out, it's difficult to really know where this group stands.  The best combination is Gamel, Reynolds, Allen.  That's a B+ group there.  However, Alford certainly drops it down to a B-, and maybe even a C.




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