Andrew Lambo was a baseball smashing monster in 2013 — he hit .282/.347/.574 with 32 home runs and a .922 OPS. Pittsburgh Pirates‘ first basemen hit worse than just about every team’s first basemen last season. The trio of Garrett Jones, Justin Morneau and Gaby Sanchez simply didn’t produce like the Bucs had hoped they would. With his excellent 2013 numbers, why are Pirates fans so down on the possibility of Lambo starting at first base in 2014? I would be honored to tell you why no one is thrilled with the idea of Lambo starting next season.
Those ridiculously good numbers he hit in 2013 were hit in the minor leagues, between Double-A and Triple-A. He got called up in September and received just 33 plate appearances, hitting for a .233/.303/.400 line with one home run. Sure, the power numbers are tantalizing, but don’t get too excited just yet. One bad trend to watch for in prospects is a high strikeout-rate. Lambo struck out in 24.3 percent of his plate appearances in Double-A and in 26.4 percent in Triple-A. In his brief MLB stint last season, he struck out in a scary 33.3 percent of his plate appearances. There is definitely some huge power potential in Lambo’s bat, but there is also a chance he turns out to be a lesser version of Mark Reynolds. I want Lambo to be great, but based on his high strikeout rates, the odds just aren’t in his favor.
A worrisome thing for Pirates fans should be that the Bucs’ front office doesn’t seem to feel much pressure to acquire an upgrade at first base, either through a trade for a free agent signing. They have seen several options come off the board, and now very few remain. They had been in talks with the Texas Rangers regarding Mitch Moreland, but apparently both sides have moved on. If the Pirates really felt they needed an upgrade as much as the fan base thinks they do, they would have most likely done something by now.
So, to sum this up, brace yourself, Pirates fans. The possibility of a Lambo/Sanchez platoon is becoming very real.