Behind the Numbers: Outfielder Edition
In a recent article I broke down the evolution of the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield, as well as the current landscape and potential options that exist within the organization. On last week’s episode of Bucs in the Basement, myself and Chris comforted Pirates Fans that did not have the overwhelming joy of being able to sign free agent Kevin Pillar to a deal and were wallowing in their own self-pity surrounding the signing of Jarrod “There Wasn’t Much Out There” Dyson. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Pirates' fans have exploded with such feelings, as we all remember the reaction to the signing of Guillermo Heredia. People in general are also not tremendously ecstatic about the probability of Gregory Polanco manning right field at PNC Park for the majority of the 2020 season. The only thing that makes them even somewhat happy is thinking about another year of rookie of the year candidate, Bryan Reynolds just doing what he does in the cavernous left field on the North Shore this year.
Aside from the many suggestions as to the free agent targets the Pirates would be stupid or cheap not sign, there have also been hopes of bringing back former Pirates or shelling out the cash/opening Bob Nutting’s Wallet to spend on a “big name” free agent. These demands became even louder after the trading of Starling Marte. Sometimes the chatter on social media was deafening. For a while the pool of potential free agents to “fill the hole” that would be left by Marte was fairly large, but has quickly dwindled as the off-season has progressed, which should make this fourth installment of my little “experiment” fairly interesting. If this is your first time here, welcome. If it isn’t, thank you for coming back.
For those of you who participated at any point of the past few weeks please bear with me as a I once again go over the rules for those who missed out the first three of times. I will be giving you a list that are made up of current or former Pirates, free agents that have been discussed on various platforms, and free agents that have signed this off-season. Voting will take place from the moment the article is published on Wednesday morning, until Thursday morning. Once all of the votes have been tallied, I will write a follow up article revealing all of the names of the player from that week’s list and discuss what players have been chosen as the “most wanted” to be in a Pittsburgh Pirate’s uniform. Now with all that being said, I am relying on all of you guys and gals to be on the honor system. Please do not look up statistics to try to figure out who each player is! Please do not tell anyone who a player is, even if you know who it is. Please no arguments, only fun discussions! Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, let’s get started!
This week, as we focus on outfielders, I will be providing you with both offensive and defensive statistics. Every player will be judged and chosen using the same stats. The metrics that will be used to compare the list of outfielders today will be:
- The classic slash line- AVG. (Batting Average)/OBP (On Base Percentage)/SLG (Slugging Percentage)
- HR (Home Runs)
- XBH (Extra Base Hits)
- wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus)
- WAR (Wins Above Replacement)
- DRS (Defensive Runs Saved)
- OAA (Outs Above Average)
- UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating)
For those of you that are familiar with these statistics, feel free to use the FanGraphs glossary for further explanation of a specific statistic.
Here is the list of the 14 outfielders:
A. Matt Joyce
B. Cameron Maybin
C. Hunter Pence
D. Yasiel Puig
E. Billy Hamilton
F. Kole Calhoun
G. Melky Cabrera
H. Steven Souza
I. Gregory Polanco
J. Charles Tilson
K. Guillermo Heredia
L. Kevin Pillar
M. Domingo Santana
N. Jarrod Dyson
*2018 last healthy season
As I was compiling the stats for the “mystery men” in the this article, I kept thinking about how much focus would be put on offensive vs. defensive numbers and if this view would be skewed at all by the statements from Ben Cherington about focusing on improving defense going into the 2020 season. I still am not sure exactly what to think as many of the favorites chosen had very positive offensive numbers, but were also the ones that had average to above average defensive numbers. But I digress.
There were 5 players on this list that received overwhelming approval from everyone that voted. Unfortunately for the voters/Pirates' fans and the organization in general 4 of the 5 have already been inked to deals with other teams. Kole Calhoun, an early season “favorite” to sign with the Pirates ended up going to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the tune of 2 year for $16 million with a club option for 2022. It sure would have been nice to have those 33 HRs on the Pirates this upcoming season. Also his defense has been a little underrated due to the overshadowing by the offensive numbers.
Hunter Pence chose to keep playing ball by reuniting with the San Francisco Giants. Health is a concern for Pence, but production is definitely not. If he is still on the field, he will continue to produce.
Matt Joyce’s selection by almost as many votes as Pence and Calhoun was a bit of shock to me and for those that voted for him, I wonder if you had the same feeling. Joyce had a very strong season last year and provides solid defense and position flexibility.
Cameron Maybin was a favorite of many and after I studied the numbers I can definitely see why. Add in the fact that he was signed to an incentive laden 1 year/$1.5 million deal by the Tigers and I can’t help but think the Pirates missed the boat with him.
The final player that many chose as a player they would want to see in a Pirates’ uniform this season is none other than Yasiel Puig. Say what you will about him, but if you put all feelings aside the numbers speak for themselves. Puig is just plain and simple, a solid baseball player.
To those that participated, thank you again. To those that didn’t, there is only one more week to jump on board, as we take a look at catchers Behind the Numbers from a batch of current and former Pirates, free agent targets that have been discussed on various platforms and free agents that have signed this off-season.
Follow Craig on Twitter: @BucsBasement