The Bucs appear ready to close the book on 2020.
Rookie manager Derek Shelton knew he was undertaking a rebuilding job with the Pirates (14-30) when he accepted the position, but no doubt 2020 has presented more challenges than he could ever anticipate and that’s just on the field. Reliable veterans have underperformed while promising young players have produced underwhelming results.
First baseman Josh Bell has had a nightmarish season. Coming off an All-Star 2019 campaign in which he hit 37 homers and drove home 116 with a 142 OPS+, Bell is hitting just .232 with six round-trippers and a career-worst 81 OPS+ mark. However, he’s not the only Pirate to struggle at the plate.
Veteran outfielder Gregory Polanco is hitting an anemic .147 with an embarrassing 41 OPS+. Somehow he’s managed to be given 127 plate appearance by Shelton because a couple of second-year players have been nearly as awful.
Switch-hitting outfielder Bryan Reynolds appeared to be destined for greatness following a rookie season in which he slashed .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs last year. However, the sophomore slump is alive and well in Reynolds’ case. Producing a slash line of just .180/.278/.338, the Bucs front office has to be concerned which is the real Bryan Reynolds.
Cole Tucker, another switch-hitter, has continued to scuffle at the major league level. As a rookie in 2019, he slashed just .211/.266/.361 in 147 at-bats. Unfortunately, a strong argument can be made he’s been even worse this season. The former first-rounder is slashing .230/.264/.290 with only four extra-base hits in 100 at-bats.