A few months ago, fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates were outraged because Gregory Polanco was not in the major leagues and dominating Triple-A instead. Still, the Pirates held off on a call up until June. Polanco was in the majors from June all the way until Monday morning when the Pirates demoted him back to Triple-A. Some may find this move questionable, but at this time it is a move the Pirates were smart to make.
Polanco has been good in the majors this season. He is hitting a little under league average and has six HRs while driving in 30 runs. At times, he was explosive, being a table setter and getting some big time hits. He even reached base in his first 11 games, a feat that had not been accomplished by a Pirate since Roberto Clemente. But for as good as Polanco was, he was also bad at several points.
After that hitting streak was snapped, Polanco went into a slump where he was hitting below .200 for weeks. He eventually snapped out of that and started to become red hot again, before going one for his last 30 at-bats leading up to his demotion. Normally this would be fine and the Pirates would let him ride out his slump, but unfortunately for Polanco, his slump was coupled with two players — Travis Snider and Jose Tabata — going on hot streaks.
Snider has been killing all types of pitching for the Pirates recently along with playing a fantastic outfield defensively. Tabata was sent down when Polanco was promoted and was tearing up triple-A, especially left-handed pitchers, and that is a spot the Pirates desperately need help. Those players need spots in the major leagues and there aren’t many ways to get them outside of optioning Polanco.
Polanco is going to be a fantastic player in the major leagues, possibly one of the best in the league in a few years. But just because he has that type of potential does not mean that he needs to be in the major leagues right now. Polanco can head down to the minors and get regular playing time while the players with the hot bat help in the majors. Either way, this was a smart decision by the Pirates in the short term and should help them in their playoff push.