Eventually, that’s something that will change as the Bucs have holes to fill in right field, shortstop, starting pitching, and most notably first base.
Despite the Pirates’ success in 2013, the first base position was a sore spot.
Gaby Sanchez performed quite well against left-handed pitching, posting a very solid .987 OPS against it, and an even better 1.032 OPS against left-handed starters in 2013. Sanchez should be back in the same platoon role, but his .619 OPS against right-handed pitching suggests he is not a candidate for everyday duty.
The biggest problem with the Pirates’ first basemen last year turned out to be Garrett Jones.
He was a risk coming into the season after posting a career-best year in 2012. Realistically, you knew Jones would regress, but very few expected the massive drop-off that took place.
Hitting only .232 with an abysmal .708 OPS rightfully cost Jones his job late in the season. What’s worse is the fact that Jones tore up right-handed pitching in 2012 to the tune of an .888 OPS. That number dipped to .730 last season.
Jones will likely get over $5 million next season, which means it is doubtful he should be tendered a contact.
That brings me to Justin Morneau, who was acquired in August to replace Jones.
Morneau won’t be back after failing to hit a home run and driving in a mere three runs in 92 plate appearances as a Pirate. His .370 OBP was nice, but the Bucs can’t commit money to guys like Jones and Morneau that can’t provide consistent run production.
That leaves a major hole at first base, especially against right-handed pitching.
With that being said, let’s take a look at five first basemen Pirates general manager Neal Huntington should be targeting.