Pirates Have the Top Rated Outfield in Baseball

Buster Olney continued his team position rankings on Thursday morning by naming the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the team with the top outfield in baseball(subscription required). Olney ranked both the Pirates’ rotation and bullpen in the top ten, giving them one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. They didn’t do so well with the infield ranking, not even getting a mention in the “just missed” group outside the top ten.

The trio of Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte got the best outfield group and Olney thinks they can be even better, as there is room for both Marte and Polanco to improve. Not to state the obvious, but Olney also called McCutchen one of the best players in baseball and noted that he is still in his prime. He called the group the backbone of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last year, Olney ranked the Pirates as the second best outfield in baseball behind the Miami Marlins. The Marlins dropped down to third place this year.

The Cubs came in second in the rankings for outfielders after being named the best infield yesterday. They also did well in both the rotation rankings and the bullpen, finishing ahead of the Pirates in both groups. The Cardinals made all four lists as well. The outfield list in NL heavy, with seven teams making the top ten and the Rockies just missing.

  • There was discussion on MLB radio yesterday about potential breakout players this year and both Marte and Polonco were mentioned. That would be huge for the Buccos!

  • Last year, the Bucs went in with good depth — and they ended up needing all of it. This year, they really don’t have a 4th OF. They also don’t have any lefty bats after Jaso and Polanco.

    If one of the big 3 OF goes down, are they really going to turn to a zero WAR player such as Sean Rodriguez?

    Maybe it would make sense to bring in a LHB 4th OF and get rid of Morse. Will Venable, for example, plays good D, is LH, and passable as a hitter.

    Or, is there someone in AAA I’m forgetting about?

    • If one of them went down, I’d either call up Garcia or put J-Hay in right and pull from the Bucs AAA middle infield depth.

  • I think the infield could be better only if 1B turns out to become a strength between the production of Jaso, Rogers, Morse and Bell. All of those guys have varying level of upside potential, some being more proven than others, but I predict that the team get better overall offense and defense from the position than last year. I like Jaso, he’s proven. Rogers offers potential. Morse, has shown he can be a productive power bat. I liked him as a pinch hitter last year. There’s upside there if he can find it again. And Bell, well he could be a star. Maybe not this year, but I think he’ll offer some good at bats when he gets called up even if its in a limited capacity.

    Kang and Harrison are also variables. I think Kang can and will be close to what he was last year, but it will have to be proven. If Harrison could recapture what he did in 2014, the infield could be great, but obviously that’s not likely, then again, who knows?

    The only one you know for sure what youre getting is Mercer. Not bad, not good, just okay.

  • Steamer projects the Angels and Marlins better than the Bucs. Still, pretty good company.

  • HartHighPirate
    January 14, 2016 1:47 pm

    The key for 162 games will be winning many series. 3 game series, 4 game series. The more series to be won will determine the championship. I attended the Pirates 4 game series in DC (Scherzer’s no-hit game included) in June 2015 when the Bucs lost 4 games to the Nationals. It was a setback at the time but the team went on to win 98 games..

  • No doubt this will be a tuff season. My hope is that they play good hard mistake free baseball all season. Where they end up is where they end up. I will be proud to be a bucco fan if they work hard and play smart

  • The Pirates timing stinks. After 20 years of losing they finally have a winning team and they have two of the best teams in baseball to compete with for the division. I wonder if this is how Rays fans felt when the Yankees and Red Sox were on top. The good news is that winning the division might be a big hurdle, but if they do win the division then winning the championship might not be as tough. The goal is to win the championship, hopefully competing with the toughest division will prepare them for the play offs. All 162 games will matter.

    • I agree with the timing issue but we are competitive and in a long season anything can happen. I think we will hold our own against these teams. We have to beat the Brewers and Reds which has not been easy for this team.

  • Presenting this as more than one man’s opinion is a bit disingenuous – I like Buster and respect his work – but this is NOT any sort of “rating” – just one guys opinion…

    Two things have to happen for Buster to be right…
    1. Polanco needs to get to a 4 WAR – we saw some good things in the second half of last year – he needs to build on those.
    2. The decline in production by the MVP since 2013 needs to stop – and ideally reverse itself.

    The Angels don’t even make Buster’s top 10 – but are arguably as good as the Pirates with two solid starters and plugging in a replacement level player in the third slot.

  • The Florida Marlins??? You better hope Loria doesn’t see this published report not calling them Miami or he may sign you to a contract…and then trade you. lol

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 14, 2016 11:18 am

    The other greatest strength of this team is in the outfield – offensively and defensively. Now, if the infield could come even close to matching that….

  • So the Cards and Cubs make all 4 lists and we make 3 of the 4…stiff competition, as expected. Will be very tough to make the playoffs for a 4th straight year…

    • I’m not 100% sure what he has left, but I assume catchers are one article, defense will be another and then he will rank the teams overall. Not sure if he does best benches

      • I’m sure Cards will rank high at Catcher but you really have to consider what Heyward said about what Molina has left in the tank.

        • I tend to agree but I think Yaddy is spent. He has played at such a high level but he is getting the type of injuries associated with his body breaking down.

        • His thumb injury also makes me question how likely it is he reverts to the offensive performance from his “good” years. That injury can be an offensive killer.