The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates were led by a remarkable pitching staff, from the front of the rotation all the way to the last member of the bullpen. The Pirates used more than ten starting pitchers and shuffled some bullpen arms throughout the season. The organization is full of pitching. While everyone was discussing the amazing pitching the Pirates had, they seemed to be overlooking something else that the Pirates have — a great outfield.
Everyone knows about the 2013 National League MVP, Andrew McCutchen. He hit .317/.404/.508 with a 155 wRC+ while compiling an amazing 8.2 fWAR last season. Along with being an outstanding offensive player, McCutchen also got a lot better defensively, saving 9.3 runs in centerfield according to FanGraphs. People think of McCutchen as a player that has great wheels, but he is much, much more than that.
Starling Marte was the best defensive left fielder in baseball last season. He is essentially an outfielder with centerfield capabilities playing left field. The Pirates would be better off switching McCutchen to left field and moving Marte to center, but they won’t do that to their MVP, face of the franchise player. Marte hit .280/.343/.441 with a 121 wRC+ as the Bucs’ leadoff hitter in 2013, while leading the NL with 41 stolen bases. Him and McCutchen both ranked in the top 30 in all of MLB in fWAR, Marte’s was 4.6 — they combined for a 12.8 fWAR in 2013.
If all goes as planned for the Pirates, the third and final piece of their outfield will arrive before July of 2014. Gregory Polanco is the Pirates’ top position player prospect, and he is another outfielder that has the defensive capabilities to play centerfield. He obviously will have to play right field since McCutchen and Marte are already there, but the Pirates will have three freakish athletes roaming in their outfield by the All-Star break. Polanco is a very advanced hitter for his age. In Double-A last season, where he spent the majority of his year, he walked the exact same amount of times that he struck out. He has great speed, he hits for contact and he should eventually develop into a 20 to 30 home-run guy as well.
The Pirates may not have the best outfield next season, because it is a very young outfield, but it will certainly be the most talented. All three of them are extremely versatile. The McCutchen, Marte and Polanco outfield should be a fun trio to watch for Pirates fans for several more seasons.