The Pittsburgh Pirates outfield is getting a brand new look in 2017. All three players will be shifting their positions in an attempt to get better results out of their fielding.
Pittsburgh Pirates Outfield Alignment Getting New Look In 2017
Gregory Polanco will shift from right field over to left. Andrew McCutchen will move out of his normal center field slot to right field, a place he’s never played an inning at. Starling Marte will move from left field into center field to cut down on the amount of balls McCutchen struggled to snag last season.
The Pirates will look for an answer to their outfield defensive problems last season by making this shift.
Polanco To The Opposite Corner
Polanco had the opportunity to play some left field last season while Marte dealt with a back injury for the majority of September. The Pirates should benefit from this change for simple reasons. They will replace Marte’s Gold Glove with Polanco, who has been known to be a liability at times, but has almost as good of an arm as Marte.
Polanco won’t have to adjust to any weird bounces off of the Clemente Wall behind him, something that’s haunted him many of times in the gorgeous PNC Park. Left field’s wall is only 325 if you can tuck it right around the foul pole and it’ll be chest high on Polanco. He shouldn’t have much trouble reading balls hit off of that, as opposed to the 21-foot monster in right field.
The Formality: Marte To Center
After the disappointing season in center field last year from McCutchen, Marte will get his opportunity to shine in center going forward. The speculation began at the beginning of the offseason, when Marte won the Gold Glove at the left field position and emerged as the unquestioned speediest outfielder on the Pirates roster. The arm strength combined with the speed should provide an immediate upgrade at that position.
McCutchen Right To Accept Move
Since winning a Gold Glove in center during the 2012 season, McCutchen’s outfield metrics have declined each season in a steady, yet still noticeable fashion. His arm strength and speed have surely been on the decline recently, and much of that is because of knee ailments over the course of the 2016 season.
A rested and motivated McCutchen should improve immensely at the plate and his move to right shouldn’t be a bad thing either.
After trade rumors have swirled around his head, and are likely to continue, this move to right field could make for some interesting storylines. A team looking to trade for McCutchen at this year’s trade deadline may believe he is a center fielder and that Marte is playing center because he’s better suited for it.
McCutchen’s arm strength is the only concern about his move to right. Runners had no problem getting from first base to third base on him while he was in center. After his move to right, a runner could be even more enticed to do so because of the longer throw.
Hurdle’ing His Obstacles
Clint Hurdle is a big McCutchen guy. He’s always defended him and tried to put him in the best position to be successful. This time, it wasn’t about McCutchen. Hurdle did exactly what he needed to do to make sure his team is in the best position to make a run. It’s even tougher to secure a playoff spot now, with the Chicago Cubs basically a lock to win the division.
The Pirates outfield realignment seemed more and more inevitable as the offseason went on. Pittsburgh will be a better team because of it.