I’m sure most of you reading this love rankings. I do, you do, everybody normally does. So, I will be ranking the Pirates roster at the end of each month. It won’t be *exactly* the 25 man roster. For example, Chris Stewart is hurt for a short period of time, so he will remain. But, Jung Ho-Kang has no return date set so he will not be on the list.
I will be ranking the Pirates based solely on how valuable I think they will be to the team over the rest of the season. With that said, if you disagree with any of the rankings feel free to leave a comment!
29. Danny Ortiz
Weighing in at dead last is Danny Ortiz. I’d imagine with a healthy Polanco, and an almost ready Austin Meadows, that we may have seen the last of Danny until September.
28. Gift Ngoepe
I actually think Ngoepe is a nice guy to have around. He started off red hot with a .375/.545/.563 line over his first 7 games played. However, since then he has a .158/.200/.184 line while striking out 48.4% of the time. In the minors he was a glove first guy with a poor bat, and that didn’t stop once he reached the bigs. At 27 it’s unlikely his bat gets any better, but he is an easy guy to root for.
27. Johnny Barbato
26. Phil Gosselin
He started off the season about as poorly as one can start. A -11 wRC+ paired with remarkably bad fielding is not ideal. With that said, since being demoted he’s only committed one error and has a .310 batting average with a .337 OBP. He was only ever meant to be the last guy off the bench, and I think he will be OK going forward.
25. Jhan Mariñez
With Bastardo and Lindblom due back, it’s hard to imagine Marinez will still have a spot on this team. He has an ERA in the mid 4’s and is walking batters more often than Tyler Glasnow.
24. Antonio Bastardo
I really don’t think Bastardo is that bad. He won’t be pitching in high leverage situations, but will he be better than Barbato and Marinez? I think so.
23. Max Moroff
He has 13 HR in AAA this year. The Pirates have 50 as a team. They lack power, Moroff provides it. I’m not sure how good Moroff can be, but he can certainly be better than Ngoepe.
22. Chris Stewart
He cant hit. But he’s a fine fielder, and has a 30.7 CS%. You could certainly do worse at backup catcher.
21. Daniel Hudson
This seasons big bullpen acquisition has been a dud so far. Before yesterdays game, he strung together a nice streak of scoreless innings. Rivero, Watson, Nicasio, and LeBlanc have all been better than Hudson and should be used in high leverage situations over him. However, with another year on his contract, there is plenty of time for him to figure it out.
20. Jose Osuna
Jose Osuna had an incredible spring training. Many wanted him on the opening day roster, but with no sign of regular at bats, it was best for him to keep developing in AAA. Now, the Pirates don’t have the luxury of letting him develop. His bat has been good off the bench, and at just 24, he could have a long future on this team as a nice backup to Josh Bell.
19. John Jaso
John Jaso is not an outfielder. Blame Huntington for that. John Jaso is a good hitter. He was acquired to do one thing: crush right handed pitching. He has done that, but his poor fielding has overshadowed his ability to hit. Once things are back to normal and Jaso can focus on playing first base and hitting, he will revert back to being an asset on this team rather than a liability.
18. Wade LeBlanc
Leblanc features an 87 mph fastball and an 84 mph cutter. His cutter has a 13.6% line drive rate, his changeup has a 18.5% line drive rate, but his fastball has a 28.0% line drive rate. Even though his fastball is getting squared up, hitters aren’t getting good results off of it. After seeing Rivero throw 100 heat, LeBlanc is an interesting guy to watch. I see no reason why he can’t sustain his success, and would like to see him pitch in high leverage situations more often.
17. Trevor Williams
He’s posted good numbers as a starter. With Taillon coming back soon, he may stay in the rotation due to Kuhl and Glasnows struggles. I’m more optimisic about Kuhl and Glasnow long term, but Williams does have a 3.32 ERA over his last four starts. It’s hard to argue with that.
16. Tyler Glasnow
Glasnow is slowly getting better with each start. I recently wrote about how he doesn’t have to get much better to be good. I think in the second half of the season, Glasnow will be impressive.
15. Jordy Mercer
His bat is heating up, and his glove is just fine at short. Nothing special, but not bad either. He’s started nearly every game so far, and is dependable as they come.
14. Tony Watson
A lot of people don’t like Tony. I personally love Tony. Watson has given up 4 HR this year. They have traveled 347, 356, 359, and 383 feet. Balls hits between 347-360 ft are HR 6.9% of the time. 6 of the 10 runs Watson has given up this year have come from the three HR that traveled less than 360 feet. He’s been unlucky this year. He doesn’t have many clean innings because of his style of pitching. He gives up weak contact, and gets outs that way. Rivero is certainly the better pitcher. But Watson should remain the closer.
13. Chad Kuhl
I’m obviously a big fan of Chad Kuhl. I have him ranked at 13 because if the team ultimately decides he should be a reliever, than he will be a great one. However, I don’t think they are converting him to a reliever anytime soon. His swinging strike rate is still up, and he has now added a curveball. By Baseball Prospectus DRA, Kuhl is an above average pitcher. I think Kuhl, like Glasnow, will post an impressive second half.
12. David Freese
Daniel Hudson hasn’t been Huntington’s best signing so far, but David Freese has to be one of his best. Keep in mind, David Freese was signed to come off the bench. His batting and fielding have both been excellent. However, since coming off the DL he has been quite bad offensively. He’s striking out 27.7% of the time and has just a .179 batting average. Hopefully he can turn things around soon.
11. Adam Frazier
Adam Frazier is a fascinating guy. He doesn’t hit the ball very hard, but he hits line drives everywhere. He has struckout only 3 more times than he has walked, and has actually played a decent left field. I’m not sure where his batting average will end up at the end of 2017, but he has given the Pirates every reason to want to find out.
10. Juan Nicasio
This guy started his Pirate career as a starter. He was never supposed to be a starter, and is back in the bullpen where he belongs. Since being put in the bullpen back in 2016, Nicasio has a 1.67 FIP against right handed hitters. However, this year Nicasio has a 1.95 FIP against left handed hitters as well. Depending on where the Pirates are at in July, Nicasio could fetch a nice return. I wouldn’t be opposed to the Pirates locking him up for a few more years though.
2016 Cervelli and 2017 Cervelli look pretty similar. In fact, they have an identical wRC+ of 99. However, last year Cervelli had a .329 BABIP and this year he has just a .292 BABIP. The power has gone way up, thanks to being healthy. The BABIP should rise a bit, and so will the rest of his numbers.
It looks like Polanco just avoided a serious injury to his knee. He will probably be back in the lineup sometime this weekend. He started the season with an injured shoulder, and I think that had affected his swing early on. He wasn’t driving the ball at all, but since coming off the DL from his hamstring injury, he has looked much better. His bat is nice to have, but the glove is extremely important. No more John Jaso in right field will help this teams pitching out quite a bit.
This guy is great. Lefty hander with a 100+ mph fastball, a wicked changeup, and a filthy slider. That sounds a lot like someone else in the league who gets a ridiculous amount of hype. Rivero is not a closer yet, so there hasn’t been as much hype. Eventually, I think I’ll do a complete write up on the Pirates bullpen. Earlier I mentioned Watson should remain the closer. The chart below is why.
Felipe Rivero has gotten the Pirates out of many jams. Watson starts the 9th inning with the bases empty. Felipe Rivero comes in with no outs and men on base. Rivero is being used exactly how he should be used. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Rivero For Closer’ talk.
I probably have McCutchen ranked higher than I should. But since his drop to 6th in the batting order, he’s been on fire. It’s a small sample, but its obvious McCutchen still has some left in the tank. His 2014 MVP days are gone. But he may still have enough left to be a great hitter. Only time will tell. Next months power ranking update could have McCutchen in the top 5, or outside of the top 15. Only time will tell.
This is where it gets really tricky. This is basically the ‘Ya, these guys are important’ tier. They could be ranked a bunch of different ways, but this is how I’d rank them.
5. Ivan Nova
Nova has the 15th best ERA in baseball among starting pitchers. Yet, I have him ranked 5th. I am working on an article going over Nova’s season so far, and given that Nova is ranked behind Taillon and Cole, this should be a good indicator of what’s inside that article. However, what an incredible signing by Huntington. Nova mentioned he thought he was worth 70 million dollars. Everyone laughed. Instead, Nova got 26 million over 3 years. It looks like Nova may have been right about being worth 70 million.
4. Josh Bell
Josh Bell’s use has been frustrating. His defense at first has been dramatically better compared to last season. However, that hasn’t stopped Hurdle from constantly double switching him out of games. Bell has been ice cold lately, but I’m in love with this kids upside. He has 350 career plate appearances, but has incredible plate discipline. Combine his plate discipline with his power being way up this season, and I think the Pirates have finally found their long term first baseman.
I’m sure many of you will disagree with Josh Harrison being ranked third here. However, given that he has the 2nd most WAR on the team I think it’s a suitable spot for him. What really sets him apart, though, is his defense. He has been the full time second baseman this year, but when Marte comes back, Harrison’s defensive versatility will be on full display.
What a bizarre career this guy has had. Tommy John surgery, followed by a hernia that he needed surgery for, followed by cancer. He hasn’t let any of that get in his way of becoming a top pitcher in baseball. There is no Pirate that is easier to root for that Taillon. His interviews show that he is a wonderful human being, and his starts show he will have an excellent career. He likely has one or two more rehab starts to make before rejoining the club.
1. Gerrit Cole
Number one on the list is Gerrit Cole. Gerrit started the season on fire. But, his last two starts have been disastrous. About 10 days ago I think Gerrit could have been an easy choice for number one. Now, I think I could have him ranked as low as 5th. Like McCutchen, next months power ranking will be very telling for Gerrit Cole.