Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training: 5 Players Who Are Sure to Shine
5 Pittsburgh Pirates Players Who Will Dominate Spring Training
In just six days, the Pittsburgh Pirates will officially start Spring Training. Well, sort of -- pitchers and catchers report in six days. But still, baseball is almost back! Spring Training is an odd thing for me. Every season, after the final out is made in the previous season, I long for the start of Spring Training. After about three or four Spring Training games, I will start to long for the regular season. I can't help it, watching the Pirates play exhibition games is fun, but it isn't even close to the excitement surrounding a regular season game.
Spring Training may be the least significant preseason of all the major sports in terms of statistics. Some players do very well in the spring, and then when the real games start, they completely fall off the map. Some players struggle in the spring and thrive when the regular season begins.
Jake Fox, in 2011, led all of MLB in Spring Training home runs. Just 53 games through the regular season, the Baltimore Orioles designated him for assignment after he hit just .188 with two home runs.
For the Pirates, they have a few players that seem to feast on Spring Training pitching. If you recall, Matt Hague put on an incredible show at Spring Training in 2012 -- earning himself the nickname "The Hit Collector", and he showed off some impressive power. In that same spring, Starling Marte hit .520 with three home runs through 25 at-bats. I couldn't find his full stats for that Spring Training, but you get the idea.
With Spring Training right around the corner, it's time to start looking ahead finally. Here are five players that will be extremely successful in Spring Training for the Bucs.
Matt Hague is the perfect example of a AAAA player (a player that is great in Triple-A, but can't quite cut it as a MLB player). For this reason, he will rake in Spring Training because of all the minor league pitchers he will be facing. He certainly won't repeat his dominant 2012 spring, but he will do well enough for Pirates fans to think he deserves to make the team out of camp.
Much like Starling Marte in 2012 and 2013, Gregory Polanco is very much on the 'when will he be called up' radar. I can see it now, after Polanco begins the spring hitting .350 with a home run and a few sparkling defensive plays, fans will get restless and start a #FreeGregoryPolanco campaign on Twitter. Unfortunately, I will probably participate in that campaign because I won't be able to contain my excitement.
Starling Marte is usually a great Spring Training hitter, I don't really see any reason why he won't be this year. He probably won't hit near .500 again, but he will probably dominate like usual.
Like Polanco, fans are waiting to see when Jameson Taillon gets the promotion to the majors. After he makes a dominant start in Spring Training, people will be trying to find a way for Taillon to make his way onto the Opening Day roster. I don't know if a #FreeJamesonTaillon campaign will commence, because it seems almost impossible for him to begin the season with the Pirates. They have too many pitchers that are better options right now.
How could Gerrit Cole not dominate? After watching Cole finish the 2013 season and perform in the postseason, I don't think there is anything he wouldn't dominate. Growing up, Cole probably dominated his family in board games such as "Candy Land" and "Mouse Trap"; and, I don't know if Candy Crush has a final level, but if it does, Cole has most likely conquered it.