By: Noah Wright
Every year, the Fangraphs Steamer gives projections on how players in the MLB are going to play next season. The projections take into play multiple factors, and some, I think, are fairly accurate on the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, there are some I do disagree with. So with that, let’s get into it.
- Josh Bell (1B)
Bell is projected to hit .270/.359/.445 with 18 home runs in 596 plate appearances. Overall, that’s a fair projection on how he will likely perform. Bell showed a much better eye in his second year, walking 13.2% of the time, while only striking out 17.8% of the time. Both of those were better from his rookie season. The young 1B also was making more hard contact and less soft contact in 2018 as well. However, I do think there is just one thing I would disagree with; his power numbers. Sure, Bell took a big step back in power from 2017 (26 home runs, .211 ISO, .466 slugging %) to 2018 (11 home runs, .150 ISO, .411 slugging %), but I do think he will reach the 20 home run plateau again, given new hitting direction on the coaching staff.
- Starling Marte (CF)
Starling Marte’s overall projection is near spot on to what I would expect from him. Fangraphs has him hitting .282/.335/.443 with 18 home runs, 35 stolen bases, and a 111 wRC+ in 653 PA’s. The only stat that could use some revision is his average. At one point not that long ago, Marte was a .300 hitter. A .282 average isn’t bad, but I think he could surpass that mark in 2019.
- Adam Frazier (2B/SS/OF)
Adam Frazier after playing a utility role for most of his career, will take over second base fulltime in 2019. Fangraphs’ Steamer sees him hitting .273/.339/.396 with 9 home runs, and a 102 wRC+ in 557 PA’s. Most of his numbers seem to be a bit lackluster for an otherwise solid player. The .396 slugging % is a large dip from what it was in 2018 (.456). Though I don’t expect him to put on a power display of something around 25 home runs, I do think the power numbers they project him hitting are going to be inaccurate. I am going to project his power numbers sit right around career average at .420, and he hits between 10-13 home runs.
- Francisco Cervelli (C)
Cervelli is projected to hit .257/.367/.383 with 8 home runs, a 107 wRC+, in 446 plate appearances. The playing time they’re projecting they’re going to give Cervelli seems accurate, but his overall hitting stats are not too close. Francisco Cervelli is a good on base player. Throughout his career, he’s consistently put up OBP’s in the .370’s, and if he’s semi-healthy again next season, I don’t see why he can’t do something similar. As for power, like Frazier though he may not be a .500 slugging %, 35 home run guy, I do think it’ll reach a bit higher than they project, especially having a .431 slugging percentage in 2018. Let me remind you that his wRC+ was 125 last season, which was just behind JT Realmuto, who had a 126 wRC+ in 2018.
- Colin Moran (3B)
The Bucs’ third baseman, Colin Moran, is viewed to hit .265/.329/.409 with 13 home runs, and a 101 wRC+ in 467 plate appearances. Overall, that seems fair. However, I do not know how much they are factoring in the team’s plan to likely platoon him at third base. Moran crushed RHP last season, having a .295/.358/.436 line against a .177/.261/.342 line against southpaws. If the Pirates plan on platooning him with Jose Osuna, or Pablo Reyes at third base, then it’s likely his numbers go up from Fangraphs projections.
- Elias Diaz (C)
Diaz’s projections is likely going to be off, by a lot. Fangraphs is projecting him to play in just 38 games and, unless barring injury, he will likely play up to 75+ games. Yes, Cervelli is a solid catcher, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t injury prone. The Pirates will likely play it like they did for most of last year, platooning Diaz and Cervelli behind the plate. Also, Diaz’s projected numbers aren’t that great. During 2018, Diaz batted an impressive .286/.339/.449 with 10 home runs and a 114 wRC+ in 277 PA’s. His projected line is .268/.318/.396 with a 94 wRC+. Though I don’t expect Diaz to replicate his 2018 numbers, it’s more reasonable to project an average in the .275-.280 range, an OBP of about .330, and slugging percentage around .420.
- Corey Dickerson (LF)
Corey Dickerson was a real nice pick-up for the Pirates last season, and Fangraphs’ projection is so-so. Last season, Dickerson batted .300/.330/.474 with 13 home runs, and 115 wRC+ in 533 PA’s. The Steamer projects him to hit .275/.317/.466 with 21 home runs and a 109 wRC+. I am predicting that Dickerson raises his home run total from last year, but I do not see him taking that big of a drop in batting average (.025 points) and OBP (.013 points). I think it’s more reasonable to say he’ll have the same average and OBP he had in 2017 (.282, .325)
- Lonnie Chisenhall (OF)
Off season signee Lonnie Chisenhall isn’t projected to do anything super special next season. In 309 plate appearances, Fangraphs projects Chisenhall to hit .259/.321/.413 with a 99 wRC+. However, it’s a bit underwhelming knowing what he can do when healthy. In 2017 when Chisenhall was healthy for 82 games, he batted .288/.360/.521. The last time he was healthy for almost a full season was 2016 when he batted .286/.328/.439 in 418 PA’s. Overall since ‘16, Chisenhall has hit for a .291/.347/.468 line. Given 350 plate appearances, I do think he can put out better numbers than what Fangraphs is projecting. Likely something in between 2016 and 2017 numbers.