As the Pittsburgh Pirates enter the final weekend of the 2023 season, here is a look at the nine players with the most plate appearances:
- LF – Bryan Reynolds
- CF – Jack Suwinski
- 3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
- DH – Andrew McCutchen
- UT – Connor Joe
- 1B – Carlos Santana
- 2B – Ji Hwan Bae
- OF – Joshua Palacios
- RF – Henry Davis
From that group, Carlos Santana is gone. The next active player in the organization would be Liover Peguero, with 201 plate appearances. The next five are: Jared Triolo, Endy Rodriguez, Jason Delay, Nick Gonzales, and Alfonso Rivas.
Adding Oneil Cruz to the mix, assuming Andrew McCutchen returns, and subtracting Rivas and Gonzales from the above list, here is how the group would line up for the 2024 season.
C – Endy Rodriguez
1B – Jared Triolo
2B – Liover Peguero
SS – Oneil Cruz
3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
LF – Bryan Reynolds
CF – Jack Suwinski
RF – Henry Davis
DH – Andrew McCutchen
Bench – Connor Joe
Bench – Ji Hwan Bae
Bench – Joshua Palacios
Bench – Jason Delay
Minors: Nick Gonzales, Alfonso Rivas, Alika Williams, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Cal Mitchell, Malcom Nunez, Matt Gorski, Carter Bins
Those are the top 21 internal candidates on the position player side. The problem is that only three of those players have 500+ plate appearances this year. Andrew McCutchen fell short, and Connor Joe has been one of the most resilient players on the field with 462 plate appearances.
Five of the nine starters next year will be asked to play 500 plate appearances for the first time in their MLB careers. Come this time next September, over half the current expected starting lineup will be extending into MLB career unknowns in playing time.
Endy Rodriguez had 531 plate appearances last year between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. He’s already at 510 this year between Triple-A and the majors as a full-time catcher.
Jared Triolo picked up 495 plate appearances in 2022 in Double-A, and has 440 this year between Triple-A and the majors.
Liover Peguero had 521 in Double-A last year, plus four more in the majors. He has 549 this year between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors.
Oneil Cruz is a disclaimer. He played 608 plate appearances between Triple-A and the majors in 2022, with 361 plate appearances in the majors. He missed most of this season with a fractured ankle, and will be returning to play 500+ plate appearances in the majors for the first time in his career next year.
Henry Davis has 492 plate appearances between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors this year. He’ll get over 500 this weekend, and like everyone else on the above list, will be going for his first 500+ plate appearance season in the majors.
For perspective, the 2023 season is the first season where Jack Suwinski has received 500+ plate appearances in the majors. It’s the second season for Ke’Bryan Hayes. The veteran of the club is Bryan Reynolds, with four seasons of 500+ plate appearances, and now three seasons in a row over 600.
Last year’s top nine in plate appearances, among the players who returned: Reynolds, Hayes, Suwinski, Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Cal Mitchell, Tucupita Marcano, Delay, Heineman
The good news is that the Pirates are progressively getting better. The trio of Reynolds, Hayes, and Suwinski will lock down three spots in the lineup for 1500+ plate appearances. From there, Rodriguez, Triolo, Peguero, Cruz, and Davis could all combine for 2000-2500+ plate appearances. Add 2000 from McCutchen, Joe, Bae, Palacios, and Delay.
The challenge is that the Pirates will need 6000+ plate appearances from this group, and they could get there if they get 500 each from that young group of potential starters. The task would be easier if they added a veteran hitter to the lineup who can give 500+ plate appearances, allowing the younger players to move around the field and ease their way into starting daily in the majors.
The question: How many players will the Pirates have with 500+ plate appearances at the end of 2024?
PIRATES VS MARLINS TO END THE SEASON
The Pirates take on the Marlins in a three game series at home to wrap up the regular season. Osvaldo Bido is on the mound to start tonight’s game. Here is tonight’s lineup:
- Connor Joe, 1B
- Bryan Reynolds, LF
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B
- Jack Suwinski, CF
- Jared Triolo, 2B
- Henry Davis, DH
- Joshua Palacios, RF
- Endy Rodriguez, C
- Liover Peguero, SS
The Pirates enter the final series with 75 wins, and a chance to disrupt the playoff chances for the 82-76 Marlins, who currently have a half-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for the final Wild Card spot.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.