First Pitch: A Look at the DH Spot for the Pirates

Fangraphs has been ranking teams by the strength of positions across baseball recently. We covered that in two of the last three First Pitch articles and it showed that the Pirates rated average-to-poor across the board. The best ranking was 15th place at second base, while third base was the worst in baseball and the Pirates had an average ranking of 23rd place in the first seven articles. Two more were released by Fangraphs since then and we take a quick look at right field, followed by a bigger look at the DH spot.

In right field, this list came out right before the announcement of Gregory Polanco testing positive for Covid-19. The Pirates didn’t rule him out for Opening Day at that point, but we don’t know his recovery time, so things could change here. They have an 0.4 WAR for Polanco and -0.1 for his replacements, which is mainly Guillermo Heredia. That has the Pirates ranked 25th in the majors, giving them another poor ranking that slightly drags down an already low overall ranking.

On to the DH spot, which is an interesting look at how Fangraphs believes that the Pirates will attack the position. I believe it will look much different, especially with Josh Bell and Colin Moran only getting 38 plate appearances combined, while other much better defensive options exist at both of their positions.

Jose Osuna is here getting the most at-bats, followed by Polanco, Adam Frazier, Josh Bell, Will Craig, Jason Martin and Colin Moran. Fangraphs gives the DH spot 259 plate appearances total, with 92 coming from Osuna, 52 from Polanco and 44 from Frazier, so they make up a large majority of the time there.

Going by their ranking, as you would expect, Bell is the top contributor here. His number is still low though due to the lack of real playing time. He is supplying a 0.1 WAR, while everyone else comes out to 0.0 WAR. That has the Pirates ranked 26th overall, right ahead of a trio of former Pirates (Matt Joyce, Harold Ramirez and Francisco Cervelli) contributing even less for the Marlins.

I think Bell will get more time at DH (“should” might be a better word). That would help this position, but the Pirates ranked 17th at first base, so any at-bats taken away from there would off-set the improvement at the DH spot.

Don’t know if there will be a Pirates vs Pirates game today, but if there is and we get a live feed, I’ll post an article. The Pirates take on the Indians in Cleveland tomorrow.

**We will have at least four articles today, including the one you’re currently reading. If any news comes up we will have more. The other scheduled articles for today are as follows:

This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History – Ten former Pirates players born on July 19th and we got mini bios on all of them.

Card of the Day – Our first submission from the 1985 Donruss set, one of the tougher regular issue sets of the 1980s, especially when it comes to condition.

1979 Season Recap – Pirates send Bruce Kison and Bert Blyleven to the mound in a doubleheader against the first place Houston Astros.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Opening Day is just five days away.




This video has some random stuff happening in Pittsburgh long ago. It’s a three-minute video with a minute of a Pirates game in the middle.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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