As was mentioned here yesterday, Buster Olney gave some very favorable rankings for the Pittsburgh Pirates, rating them near the top in baseball for their starting rotation, bullpen and lineup. I mentioned yesterday that their bench would likely rank very high once Jung Ho Kang is signed, but I missed out on the defensive side of things. Olney ranks the Pirates’ defense as the 8th best in the league, the same spot he has their bullpen and lineup.
The #8 spot may actually be a little low considering the outfield defense of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco, plus the impressive season Jordy Mercer had on defense. The Pirates seem solid behind the plate with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, which he notes in the article(subscription required). Olney sort of gives the team a back-handed compliment when he says their overall defense, especially the play in the infield, has more to do with the positioning they use on defense. The defensive shifts the Pirates employ, makes players like Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer better defenders according to Olney.
The Pirates ranked fourth among NL teams on his list, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers, St Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. All three of those teams rank in his top five.