Tim Dierkes at RotoAuthority takes a look at the NL Central’s lead-off hitters. Here’s what he has to say about the Pirates:
Duffy had one good month out of three last year (September). If he can hit enough to remain the everyday CF and lead-off man, we could be looking at 90 runs and the cheapest 40 SBs you’ll find. If he reaches his PECOTA (.287/.339/.413) he’ll keep his job all year.
Keep in mind that Dierkes runs a fantasy baseball site, so his assessments might be valued differently than those of a baseball scout. Still, he considers Chris Duffy to be a questionable presence at the top of the order. Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Freel, Rickie Weeks and David Eckstein are more impressive–they all draw the “solid” tag. Only Chris Burke of the Astros receives as much scrutiny as Duffy. Nicolas examined the similarities between Duffy and Burke at “82.”
If Duffy goes .287/.339/.413 with 40 steals, the Pirates will be at least a .500 team. I’m not banking on such a steady performance, however.
As an aside: If you go position by position on the diamond, is there anywhere that the Bucs have a distinct advantage in the Central? None of our hurlers can throw with Chris Carpenter or Roy Oswalt. Freddy’s on par with Aramis and a healthy Rolen, and not too far ahead of a consistent Ensberg or a still-peaking Encarnacion. LaRoche, our heralded power bat, is behind Pujols, Berkman and Lee. Even Bay has Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee and Bill Hall on his heels.
It’s a long journey to the mountain top.