Andrew McCutchen needs no introduction. The 2013 National League Most Valuable Player, Cutch paced the Pirates’ offense all season long. Though he didn’t win a Gold Glove, his defense actually improved this year. McCutchen, who turned 27 last month, is the complete package and one of the best talents in baseball right now. Thankfully the club locked him up prior to the 2012 season, or else he could command crazy kinds of cash. The six-year, $51.5 million contract for a player of that caliber looks great right now.
Starling Marte had a nice season out of the leadoff spot for the Pirates. He started off ridiculously hot, keeping his batting average above .300 through his first 49 games of the year. A big slump into June dropped it down into the .280 range, and it hung around there for the rest of 2013. Marte’s speed was a huge asset, helping him steal 41 bases. His strong defense earned him a Gold Glove nomination in left field, though he lost to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez. At 4.6 wins above replacement, Marte was the fifth most valuable outfielder in the National League.
Marlon Byrd was everything the Pirates needed out of right field: a power bat with solid defense. Coming off a PED suspension, Byrd was great for the Mets then continued his success upon being traded to Pittsburgh in late August. He was only here for one month but made a big impact on the team. Byrdman’s home run in the Wild Card game was unforgettable – his first postseason at-bat, PNC Park’s first postseason home run, etc. His great season earned himself a two-year, $16 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies starting in 2014.
At -0.6 WAR (tied with Felix Pie), Travis Snider was the least valuable Pirate in 2013. He was given the opportunity to start in right field early in the year, holding his own through April but stumbling by the end of May. In his last 41 games of the season, Snider hit just .136/.190/.254. He was sidelined for 33 games until September 1st due to a toe injury. When he did get a hit, Lunchbox came up big – his pinch-hit grand slam on May 21st was huge; he hit a walk-off single against the Reds on June 2nd; his pinch-hit homer on September 3rd at Milwaukee helped the Bucs to their 81st victory of the year. Will he be a Pirate again in 2014? Time’s running out to prove himself and he doesn’t have any minor league options remaining. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with him.
Jose Tabata honestly wasn’t that bad this season. While he dealt with multiple injuries like he does every season, Tabata was much better at the plate in 2013; in fact, he ended up hitting .312/.357/.490 in August and September. His salary increases to $3 million in 2014. If the Bucs don’t acquire a right fielder this offseason, Tabata will help bridge the gap until Gregory Polanco is ready.
Alex Presley, who struggled when given an opportunity as the starting left fielder in 2012, didn’t have much of a chance this season. Between Cutch, Marte, Snider, and Tabata on the roster, Presley was the odd man out. There were rumors that he wasn’t pleased with his role, making a trade or release at the end of the season seem likely. However, that cleared up quickly as they dealt him to the Twins in exchange for Justin Morneau on August 31st. Presley hit .283 in 28 games after the trade; he’ll be getting a better opportunity in Minnesota, so good for him.
Felix Pie was brought in on a minor league deal last winter, playing in Triple-A as depth until late August when he was recalled. He did next to nothing at the plate, hitting .138 with a .366 OPS. With only 29 at-bats in 27 games, Pie served as a late-inning defensive replacement most of the time. He elected free agency a few weeks ago and will look to latch on somewhere else in 2014.
Andrew Lambo put up awesome numbers in the minors this year – 32 HR, 99 RBI, .922 OPS in 120 games – and the hype obviously led to a #FreeAndrewLambo campaign. He was freed in mid-August but didn’t see much playing time, receiving just 30 at-bats down the stretch. It’ll be interesting to see how they use him in 2014 – his power shouldn’t go unnoticed, and you’d think they’d at least want to test out his bat. Lambo could start the year platooning in RF with Tabata or even at 1B with Gaby Sanchez. The team’s offseason moves will provide a good idea of how they feel about Lambo and whether or not he’s major league material.