P2Daily: Best Leadoff Hitters In Pirates System In 2022

There’s so much that goes into being the leadoff hitter.

You want to see as many pitches as possible, so your teammates have an opportunity to see what the pitcher is throwing and how good his stuff is that day.

You are responsible for getting things going for the rest of the order, needing to get on base however possible to set up your bigger run producing hitters.

Oneil Cruz is an interesting study when it comes to his position in the lineup, as I’ve talked about before. He has the speed to be a threat on the bases like you’d imagine from a traditional leadoff hitter, but also has the power to be in a more run-producing role.

The difference has been his obvious success batting leadoff, both this season in the majors and throughout his career in the minors. 

Outside of Cruz, there were a few players that played especially better when leading off a lineup, whether it be just a comfort thing, or they had the traditional skills you look for.

Tsung-Che Cheng

The 21-year-old shortstop might be the guy in the entire system whose skillset best fits the leadoff position. Cheng drew 63 walks, one behind the organization’s leader Andres Alvarez’s 64 free passes. He also led all Pirate minor leaguers in stolen bases, swiping 33 bags.

In 72 games as the team’s leadoff hitter, Cheng batted .276/.387/.414, with 47 of his walks (0.65 per game) and a total of 25 extra-base hits.

After returning from a midseason injury, you can see the extra-push he gave the lineup that sparked their late season run for a playoff spot, although it ultimately came up short.

Jared Triolo

Only one player in the entire system has finished with more hits the last two seasons than Triolo, and that’s Endy Rodriguez. Triolo did the majority of his damage this season while batting leadoff, something that spanned 65 games and 254 at-bats. The 72nd overall pick back in 2019 batted .311/.404/.480, with six of his season home runs for Altoona this year coming from the top of the order. 

His average when he doesn’t hit leadoff shows the comfort level he plays with in that spot, as he went just 41-of-171 (.239) batting anywhere else in the lineup.

Triolo has also flashed some decent speed on the base paths, with 49 steals over the past two seasons combined. He also finished in a tie with Cheng when it came to walks at 63.

Andres Alvarez

Alvarez is an interesting inclusion here, as he didn’t hit great batting first in the lineup (.189/.343/.377), but led the system in walks and posted the first 20-20 season in Altoona Curve history.

The interesting note with Alvarez is that while he didn’t have much success batting at the top of the lineup, he hit very well when leading off an inning.

Alvarez hit a total of eight extra base hits, five home runs, and slashed .313/.439/.550 when leading an inning off. So while he wasn’t the best at the top of the order, he was able to set up the offense the rest of the inning with his ability to get on. 

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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It’s time to sign Aaron Judge, 10 year $450 million. $50 million/year for the first 5 years, $40/year after that. He will put an extra 1 million butts in the seats and pay for himself. Advertising revenue goes up, charge much more for premium seating, keep the cheaper tickets the same price. Instantly makes the Pirates a playoff team. New line up has him leading off, Newman or Hayes 2nd, Cruz, Reynolds, Endy is ready. Young guys are cheap, use a big contract to legitimize yourself. Similar to what the Nationals did with Jason Werth years ago, bring some excitement to this team, invest in the franchise. Let’s gooooooooo!!!


Just sign rizzo, 1starying pitcher, and 2 good bullpen arms and I’ll ge more than happy.
I believe those signings will make the pirates competitive for 2023.


agreed, that’s probably a better use of the $$, but the Pirates have to make a splash. They need to overpay Judge by $50-$100 million for a 10 year contract. If this team is truly supposed to start competing in 2024, get a jump start and make a splash. He will easily make them interesting and put a million+ more in the seats. He easily pays for himself the first 5-6 years. While they are at it, sign Cutch. This organization needs a kick in the ass and to show the fans it’s capable of making a splash. Cheap tickets stay the same price, premium tickets go up 25-50%. Ad Revenue goes way up.

b mcferren

I like Cruz batting leadoff and Bae 9th in the order


The Pirates prospects 2022 media guide available?


No Playoff article with Roundtable picks? I’ve been “in” with the Phillies since they absolutely crushed us in two series this year. That’s a helluva team……my darkhorse pick.


If you bat Cruz leadoff, he comes to plate in the first with no outs. If you bat Cruz second, he comes to the plate 70% of the time with one out and no one on base in the first innning. I think batting him lead off allows him to see better pitches in the first at bat, as the pitcher doesn’t want to walk the lead off hitter. With one out and no one on, the pitcher is more likely to throw the ball off the plate away thinking a walk is acceptable. I also like forcing the pitcher to throw high quality pitches from the first pitch, thinking there is more of a liklihood for a mistake pitch in the first at bat. So I like him as a leadoff hitter, and having a decent hitter for average batting ninth makes the most sense to me. But I can also see the case for batting him second. Just don’t bat him third, as coming to the plate with two outs and no one on guarantees he sees few strikes. I remember on some poor hitting Pirate’s teams with McCuthen batting third, and very often coming to the plate with two outs, no one on, and it was almost guaranteed he would get walked or have to swing at balls in the dirt.

So, right now, 9 – Bae/whoever, 1 – Cruz, 2 – Reynolds.

Last edited 3 months ago by EightMenOut

That’s exactly how I would do it.


I’m in the camp of those wanting to see Bae hit lead off to start next season.

Wilbur Miller

You definitely want to specify “in Pittsburgh” here.


Since people are going to get moved, this is spot on.


Not sure where else to put this, but FG did update their top 100. Well, not top 100, but those who are graded 50 and above. The Bucs have three 55’s and four 50’s. In order it’s Johnson, Rodriguez, Davis, Ortiz, Priester, Peguro, Gonzales.

In farm system ranking, they’re fourth behind Baltimore, TB, and Cleveland. In a recent chat, Longenhagen noted that more changes are to come.

Last edited 3 months ago by ArkyWags

I loved seeing the love for Endy, and couldn’t believe Ortiz. I hope that Ortiz takes this offseason to seriously work on 3rd pitch…

Wilbur Miller

Giant leap for Ortiz. Also not as much of a hit for Nick as I was afraid of.


I’m a Longenhagen fan, so thanks. In contrast though, the Bucs have at least 10 pro scouts, multiple managers and coaches, plus detailed performance data. How do the Bucs scout themselves and other teams?


I think baseball has progressed beyond traditional leadoff hitters. The analytics will tell you that your best hitters should be hitting 1-2-3.

Look around the league, teams just don’t generally put speedy guys at the top order. These guys that are listed in the article are more 9th hitters if they ever make it, but more likely up and down guys from Indy.


And subsequently your 9 hitter will get the least ABs but an on base threat there is beneficial so that your top hitters will be up with runners to hit in


I sure wished that Hayes hit/walked enough to bat leadoff. Maybe Bae can be that guy?


Bae is your prototypical 9th hitter in a modern lineup…Well, on a good team.


Unfortunately the same can be said about Hayes?


Hayes would probably be a 7th, 8th hitter on a playoff team.


He isn’t THAT good.


Triolo will be another Tupacita which I’m ok with. His glove is very good. SS quality. Tripoli’s arm isn’t as good though.


I am the only one who thinks he can be more., I guess.

The Gunner

Foo…….I am in your camp as it relates to Triolo. Let’s hope he gets an opportunity in Pittsburgh next year.


Yeah Triolo was one of my favorite players to watch in 2021. I’d be surprised if he didn’t do enough to be an average MLB player


Did Bae bat leadoff any with Indy? If so how did his numbers compare batting there versus other spots in the lineup?

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