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As he continues to hit at a high rate the Pittsburgh Pirates need to find at bats for utility man Jose Osuna
One of the stars of Spring Training 2017 and 2018 for the Pittsburgh Pirates was utility man Jose Osuna. Despite a strong Grapefruit League performance each of those seasons, Osuna struggled during the regular season.
This season the roles have been reversed. After struggling in Spring Training, he started the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Since having been promoted to the Major League level, however, Osuna has raked.
After going 2-for-3 in Friday night’s victory, Osuna is now slashing .304/.347/.609. His ISO is a healthy .304, to go with a .392 wOBA and a 146 wRC+.
With Osuna raking at the plate, the Pirates need to find him every day at bats.
Following the team trading Corey Dickerson to Philadelphia on Wednesday, there is an opening for him to play every day. Osuna can play in right field when there is a right-handed starting pitcher on the mound. When a lefty toes the rubber and Colin Moran is on the bench, Osuna can play third base.
While Osuna’s athleticism in right field leaves a good bit to be desired, he has a cannon of an arm in the outfield. At third base, however, Osuna has flashed as a plus defender. This includes multiple strong plays on Friday night.
The Pirates need to find out what role Osuna can play in the team’s future. Is it as an every day player? Or, is it as a bench bat?
If it is as a bench bat, he has seemingly mastered the art of pinch hitting. In the offseason I dove into his need to improve as pinch hitter this season, and improve he has. Osuna is slashing .370/.370/1.037 as pinch hitter this season, including a MLB leading 5 pinch hit home runs.
Osuna has also been hitting the ball with authority this season. His 36.6% hard contact rate is above league average. So is his average exit velocity of 89.9 MPH. There is certainly reason to believe Osuna has turned the corner as a hitter and is starting to figure it out.
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It is time for the Pirates to find out what they have in Osuna. Is he a bench bat or an every day player? Now is the time to play Osuna on an every day basis to find out.