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Bryan Reynolds had a rookie season to remember, but he will not be #ROYnolds.

It was revealed Monday that Reynolds finished fourth for the BBWAA National League Rookie of the Year award.

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso was a near unanimous pick for the award, finishing first in 29 ballots and second in one. Alonso led baseball with 53 home runs, breaking Aaron Judge’s rookie record. He drove in 120 runs and had 5 WAR. He received 148 points in the vote (five points for a first place vote, three for second, one for third).

Braves right-hander Mike Soroka received the other first place vote and finished second overall (82 points). Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. finished third (26 points) after an abbreviated campaign.

Reynolds had one second place vote and six third place votes, giving him nine points.

Reynolds was promoted to the majors on Apr. 20 to replace the injured Starling Marte. He started his major league career with an 11 game hitting streak and did not slow down from there. He hit .314 with 16 home runs, 68 RBI and an .880 OPS over 546 plate appearances. He set a new Pirates rookie record with 37 doubles.

Baseball-Reference valued him at 3.9 WAR, sixth among major league rookies. Since 1950, the only Pirates rookies with more WAR in a season than Reynolds were Red Witt (4.0 in 1958) and Jung-Ho Kang (4.0 in 2015).

Also receiving votes were Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson (four points) and Nationals center fielder Victor Robles (one point).

Astros designated hitter and outfielder Yordan Alvarez was a unanimous pick for the American League Rookie of the Year.

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I was flipping around the dial Friday night in between periods of the Penguins game and landed upon a broadcast of the WPIAL 6-A championship football game between Pine-Richland and Central Catholic, when I heard a familiar voice.

No, not Bob Pompeani.

I’m talking about Neil Walker. The former Pirates second baseman, who starred in football and baseball at Pine-Richland before he was selected with the 11th overall pick by his hometown team in the 2004 draft, was doing some color commentating in the booth. Walker, who at 34 is no longer a kid, noted that he was coming up on his 10-year anniversary as a major leaguer, and also mentioned that he wouldn’t mind playing one more year in the big leagues.

So, should the Pirates take a flyer on the ol’ Pittsburgh Kid?

Walker spent parts of seven years with the Pirates, appearing in 17 games in 2009 before taking over as the regular second baseman the following year. He was part of a core of young players that included Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, all of whom combined to help turn the Pirates fortunes around earlier this decade.

During his time as a Pirate, Walker compiled a batting average of .272 and a .769 OPS, and failed to drive in more than 65 runs only once during his time as a regular in Pittsburgh. Although Walker was a No. 1 draft pick, I did not have extraordinarily high expectations of him when he joined the Pirates. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he seemed a bit bulky for second base, and coming through the Bucs’ minor league system, he never once reached the .800 OPS mark.

I’m not sure what the advanced analytics would tell you about Walker’s time in Pittsburgh, but I always considered him an average player, or just slightly above that. His range certainly was limited, but I never considered him a major liability in the field. And while his offensive numbers were not eye-popping, he seemed to deliver more than his fair share of clutch hits.

In short, he struck me as a positive piece on a winning team, but not one I would seek to acquire if my team figured to scuffle.

Walker’s final year in Pittsburgh was 2015, when he hit .269 with an OPS of .756 – a drop of more than 50 points from the previous year, when he batted .271, hit 23 home runs and drove in 76. That December, the Pirates – wary of his salary and his history of back problems – peddled him to the New York Mets in exchange for left-hander Jon Niese in what became a lightning rod of a deal. It was one of several moves that offseason that raised the ire of Pirates fans, who screamed that the front office went back on its word to add to the club – rather than subtract – when it finally got competitive.

Walker hit .282 with 23 home runs – but just 55 RBIs – with the Mets in 2016 and then hit the jackpot by accepting a $17.2 million contract from New York for 2017. He only lasted until mid-August that year with the Mets, who shipped him to Milwaukee. Overall that year he put together an .801 OPS, driving in 49 runs in 385 at-bats.

Walker returned to New York in 2018, but this time with the Yankees, where he scuffled to a .219 batting average after signing a $4 million free agent contract. For 2019, Walker headed south to Miami and saw action in 115 games, batting .261 with 8 home runs and 38 RBIs. He missed time with several injuries, including a jammed right index finger that kept him out of the lineup for two weeks and a pulled right quad, which landed him on the injured list for nearly a month.

So, does Walker have anything left in the tank, and would he add anything to a Pirates team that is either in major transition or an outright rebuild? Given that he was willing to play last year for $2 million, it’s not likely that Walker would demand – or command – much in the way of salary. He certainly doesn’t need the money; according to Baseball Reference he has earned nearly $52 million during the course of his career, and the website Spotrac has it at $54 million. I’m not sure he would provide anything more than one of the Pirates’ existing bench players would provide and in the case of guys like Pablo Reyes or Jose Osuna, it would be even less, given their ability to at least wear an outfielder’s glove.

Walker’s relationship with the Pirates had soured during his final season; the club had taken him to arbitration prior to the 2015 season and won. Walker told the Tribune-Review that the arbitration hearing “was probably the point when I lost all faith in the organization.” According to the Trib, the Pirates offered Walker a three-year, $27 deal, but Walker asked for $19 million over two years. Walker said the Pirates never countered, though, and that put the two sides in an arbitration hearing, with Walker seeking $9 million and the Pirates wanting to pay a million less.

The owner writing the Pirates’ checks certainly hasn’t changed, but all of the key front office players have moved on. So, would that open the door to Walker coming back in a far reduced role? When healthy, he’s still capable of providing a little pop off the bench. He would also be steady presence for some of the club’s younger players. And from a PR standpoint, the Pirates could do a lot worse. I’m not lobbying for it, but I wouldn’t be opposed to a spring training invite to see if there’s any kind of a fit, particularly given the new 26-man rosters for 2020.

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The website MLB Trade Rumors put out their yearly offseason free agent predictions. The site has the Pittsburgh Pirates inking two notable ones this offseason.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to search for a new General Manager and manager, the offseason keeps moving. Teams are starting to put together their offseason agenda, who they would like to acquire, who they want/need to trade, and other personnel moves. Still, there is plenty of time before the action really starts.

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have interim General Manager Kevan Graves helping make some early offseason roster decisions, most of these decisions will not have much of an impact on the Bucs offseason. Meanwhile, it has been reported that the team has an outside firm leading the search for a new General Manager. This will likely result in a hire sooner than later, which means the new hire should have plenty of time to get their offseason agenda ready.

Even though the team does not have a General Manager, this has not stopped writers, reporters, and bloggers from trying to forecast the Bucs offseason moves. Here at Rum Bunter we have posted multiple articles about catchers the team should pursue and so on.

The website MLB Trade Rumors is one of the best baseball websites around. It is a site that has been around for years and does a great job of tracking all player movement in the league as well as rumors. Over the years, MLBTR has grown into a popular website for fans to check out, especially during the offseason with their free agent predictions. The team at MLBTR tries to look at each team’s situation and determine who they could try and sign in the offseason.

MLB Trade Rumors projects the Bucs to sign two notable free agents (top 50). Obviously, the Pittsburgh Pirates are never predicted to sign one of the big fish free agents. Even with a change in the front office, the Bucs are still going to operate like a small market team. So, MLBTR is projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign corner outfielder Kole Calhoun and left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly.

Both make sense as potential targets. Smyly would give the team a potential left-handed starter in a right-handed heavy rotation. He also fits the mold of the classic bounce back starter candidate that the previous regime always looked for on the market. Smyly was expected to breakout in 2018 after an impressive World Baseball Classic, but he had to undergo Tommy-John surgery early that year. He has bounced around over the last year and has yet to regain form. Still, he could be a low-risk, high reward free agent.

Calhoun’s place on the roster would not be as clear. He is a corner outfielder who bats left-handed and the team has switch hitter Bryan Reynolds in left and left-hander Gregory Polanco in right field, so there is no spot. This is unless the team does in fact trade Starling Marte, something that will likely occur. The team then could slide Reynolds to center and allow Calhoun to man a corner spot. Calhoun was solid last year, batting .232/.325/.467 with 33 home runs, 29 doubles, and one triple. Obviously, the batting average is a little low, but with his left-handed power he could be a real threat at PNC Park.

NEXT: General Manager Hiring News
This cannot be the Pittsburgh Pirates only moves this offseason. Obviously, there is a lot that has to go on and will go on, but this would be a solid start to the team’s offseason. Both players could be very intriguing fits for the team in 2020.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates had a very strong draft in 2019 with many of those prospects emerging on their Top 30 prospect lists. Checking in at number seven is their second pick from last season.
Although the Pittsburgh Pirates have let go of now former General Manager Neal Huntington, he will have somewhat of a lasting impact on the organization well down the road. This past season’s draft will mark the last one of the Huntington era. Whether it is a good thing or not remains to be seen. However, many experts are high on what Huntington brought in during the 2019 draft.

Ranking as the Pittsburgh Pirates number seven overall prospect on MLB Pipeline is outfielder Sammy Siani. The Pittsburgh Pirates used their second pick, and 37th overall, last year to take the upside prep outfielder from Philadelphia and signed him to an over-slot deal to pass on his commitment to Duke University.

Catching market starting to thin out for the Brewers

Siani is one of the most projectable players they took in last year’s draft class. He stands at 6’1” and only weighs around 190 pounds, giving him plenty of opportunity to add more muscle to his frame. Also, he will not turn 19 until the beginning of December making him one of the younger top picks in last year’s draft. As Siani continues to mature and fill into his frame he likely will turn into a solid power hitter.

After signing last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates placed Siani with their Gulf Coast affiliate. In the GCL, Siani was thrown right into the thick of things being placed at the top of the lineup for the Bucs affiliate. He saw mixed results in his début with a bit of an up and down couple months. He hit below .220 in June (only three games) and in August. However, in July he hit a solid .276 and saw his on-base percentage well over .400.

Overall, Siani finished the season with a slash line of .243/.372/.308 with no home runs. As mentioned earlier, Siani is young and still growing into his frame. Combine his attributes with the transition from high school bats to wooden bats, it makes sense why his slugging percentage was so low. As he adjusts to a wooden bat and he matures, his left-handed swing should develop some nice pop.

The part that stood out was Siani’s ability to get on base. While he only batted .243 he saw his on-base percentage be almost 130 points higher. This is mainly because of his plate discipline. Siani only struck out 41 times in 39 games, which is not outstanding, but it is still pretty solid. Meanwhile, he was able to show a great eye at the plate drawing 26 walks in those games. Hopefully, this ratio continues to stay close as he moves up in the farm system.

Siani also grades out as a plus runner. According to MLB Pipeline, Siani has a grade of 55, which for comparison is the same grade outfielder Jason Martin received. He swiped five bags in five attempts this season and showed he was capable of playing centerfield. His arm is probably his worst tool, which grades out to be average so he likely projects as a future left-fielder.

NEXT: Prospect Rewind: Ji-Hwan Bae
Sammy Siani could get an aggressive push to full-season ball in 2020. The team has typically operated this way with their high upside offensive prep picks. Obviously, things could be different once the new regime is in place. It will be interesting to see if he is able to build on his experiences from last year and continue to show his all-around skills.

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Reports are that the New York Mets are interested in trading for Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Starling Marte. What could a potential trade between the two teams look like?

As new general manager Ben Cherington prepares to embark on his first offseason on the job for the Pittsburgh Pirates one of his biggest decisions this offseason will be deciding what to do with Starling Marte. The former Gold Glove winning All-Star is the team’s best player. However, he is only under team control for two more seasons.

Right now the Pirates do not appear to be a team that will be looking to win either of the next two seasons. The right move would be for Cherington to look to rebuild and the main part of that would be trading Marte.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the New York Mets are among the teams that are interested in Marte. So, what could a potential Marte trade with the Mets look like?

When looking at a potential return for Marte one name that immediately jumps out is outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo has been the team’s regular center fielder the past few seasons, but the Mets have outfield depth with Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, a healthy Yoenis Cespedes, and Jeff McNeil can move to the outfield as well. So, Nimmo could be expendable.

In four MLB seasons Nimmo owns a .254/.387/.440 slash line, .361 wOBA, 130 wRC+, and a 15.2% walk rate in 1,084 plate appearances. In his three full MLB seasons he has been worth an average of 2.3 fWAR per season. Nimmo remains under team control for three more seasons and could join Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Newman, Josh Bell, Mitch Keller, etc. as part of the Pirates new core.

Nimmo would be a main piece in a trade. If not Nimmo, then the Pirates could potentially target Matthew Allan – the Mets’ top pitching prospect – as the main piece of a Marte trade. The 18-year-old Allan was a 3rd round pick by the Mets last summer. In six games after being drafted Allan allowed 3 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings of work to go with 14 strikeouts. He projects as a top of the rotation starting pitcher.

As for potential secondary pieces in a trade two names that jump out are catcher Francisco Alvarez and outfielder Freddy Valdez. Alvarez, an 18-year-old catcher, is the Mets’ 5th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Alvarez slashed .312/.407/.510 with a 155 wRC+ in 42 games last season.

Valdez is even younger than Alvarez. The 17-year-old outfielder is also among New York’s top 20 prospects, but after slashing .274/.367/.448 last season to go with a 6-foot-3 frame Valdez looks primed to shoot up prospect rankings.

Left-handed pitching prospects David Peterson and Kevin Smith could be intriguing trade targets as well. Peterson had a strong season at the Double-A level in 2019, where he made 24 starts. In these 24 starts he posted a 4.19 ERA, 3.19 FIP, a 7.4% walk rate, and a 24.5% strikeout rate in 116 innings.

Smith started 2019 at the High-A level where he posted a 3.05 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 6.8% walk rate, and a 29.1% strikeout rate in 85 2/3 innings pitched across 17 starts. His success at the High-A level earned him a promotion to the Double-A level where he made six starts, posting a 3.45 ERA, 3.23 FIP, an 11.8% walk rate, and a 22.1% strikeout rate in 31 1/3 innings pitched.

You can never have too much pitching in baseball. Additionally, the Pirate farm system is void of any left-handed pitching prospects.

One thing Cherington needs to do is restock the Pirate minor league system. The best way to do this is to stockpile young talent. Players such as Alvarez, Valdez, Peterson, and Smith would all help in doing this.

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This is the first of many weekly looks into moments that great impacted the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was an ordinary game in the middle of April that pitted the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. The Pirates had started the season with much promise, as the pitching staff that was expected to be the anchor of the club was performing above those very expectations. Jordan Lyles was pitching like a complete steal as the number five starter and the offense was ice cold. Nobody had really gained traction as of yet, but Josh Bell was just starting to find it. None of us had a clue just what he found, but Bell was about to catch fire.

Then it happened. Erik Gonzalez sprinting out toward centerfield tracking a pop fly off the bat of Yangervis Solarte, Starling Marte sprinted in for the ball. If you were watching, you saw it coming. People in the left field bleachers yelled ‘look out!’ Gonzalez and Marte collided and the impact was severe. Two players with speed came to a sudden stop and lie on the grass one writhing the other nearly motionless. You could hear the hit from the stands, and not the way you do at a football game where plastic and fiberglass create an echo as they collide. This was the thud and crack of actual flesh and bone.

Josh Kurelac
Pirates made some roster moves.

Erik Gonzalez is on the 60-day injured list with a left clavicle fracture. Starling Marte is on the 10-day IL with an ab contusion.

Here’s last night’s collision that caused the injuries:

Embedded video
2:55 AM – Apr 21, 2019
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The park fell silent, I mean as soon as the 18,000 strong gasps ended there wasn’t another sound until Erik Gonzalez was helped up. He walked off under his own power but visibly favoring his shoulder. Marte was carted off as a precaution, riding off to roars.

The situation looked bleak. Starling Marte had been one of the players having success at the plate to open the season and anchored the defense. Kevin Newman whom Gonzalez had beaten out for starting short stop duties was himself on the IL with a finger he banged up messing with a pitching machine of all things.

This moment would lead the Pirates to make moves that would transform the lineup for the rest of 2019 and beyond. Cole Tucker an exciting first round draft pick with an electric smile and energetic playing style and, newly acquired outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds, picked up in the Andrew McCutchen trade, were called up to fill the void. Tucker carried with him expectation and excitement, everyone expected he would cement himself and grab hold of the position. We had all prematurely written off Newman after one month of baseball. He delivered quickly too, with speed and burst, a splash of power and a smooth glove capable of dynamic range that was more than welcome playing next to Colin Moran. Less was known or expected from Mr. Reynolds, in fact he didn’t even seem all that excited about being in the Big Leagues. We’d soon come to see that quiet confidence wasn’t an act, it was just Bryan Reynolds.

Eventually Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker started splitting time as Tucker’s bat went stone cold. Kevin Newman then proceeded to tear into a five-month effort to show all of us just how wrong we were and, in the process, take a firm grasp of short stop and the leadoff position. Bryan Reynolds wasn’t supposed to play much, but he started hitting right away and never stopped. Right handed, left handed, day games, night games, cold weather….well, you get it. Reynolds finished fourth in rookie of the year voting in 2019.

Without that collision, its possible Newman never gets a chance to take hold of his position. The team showed about the same confidence level in Newman as the fans when they traded for Gonzalez to be an insurance policy. Reynolds most likely would have continued to dominate AAA pitching for the better part of 2019, and we never would have seen Cole Tucker flash the future and charisma he brings to the table.

Injury is never a positive thing, but this one instance forced the club to bring the future into the now and because of that one moment, we have two fewer questions as we enter 2020.

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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.

NEXT: A Double-A Pitcher That Should Be In Triple-A
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.

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CLEVELAND — One fascinating dynamic that emerged in the Pirates’ clubhouse late in the 2019 season: Players were pushing Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman, their two terrific rookies, to feel more comfortable in leadership roles.

And that push apparently won’t abate, no matter how much change occurs over the players’ heads.

“I think we’ve got to change the culture a little bit, and that’s always on the players, first and foremost,” Joe Musgrove, the team’s unquestioned leader, was telling me. “Sometimes, having as many young guys as we do, it’s hard to go out there and play with the confidence of a team with a ton of experience. With all the setbacks, all the injuries, all the issues we had, it allowed an opportunity for our young guys to go out and get major-league reps. The next step is taking control of the situation all around them.”

Reynolds and Newman, he meant. And in the most respectful way, I might add.

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The Pirates are in need of an upgrade at third base. Colin Moran has had two seasons to prove he’s the answer at the hot corner but the results are less than encouraging. It might be time for top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes to be ushered in as the heir to third base for the foreseeable future.

In 2018, Moran posted a 0.7 WAR with average metrics across the board, offensively. He took a step back in 2019, posting a sub-par .315 wOBA and a much too high 23.3% K-rate. His chase rate jumped almost 10% last season, a clear indication that he was pressing at the plate.

Defensively he regressed as well. In 2018, his defensive runs saved (DRS) was a -8. Last year it dropped even further to a -13. His overall ultimate zone rating (UZR) is a dismal -15.8.

That, coupled with the fact that Moran isn’t due to hit free agency until the 2024 season (2020 is his arbitration year), perhaps he’d be better suited in more of a utility role than a starting infielder. Moran can fill in at any infield position (save for catcher) as well as a spot start in left field.

It might be time to insert top prospect and 2015 first round pick, Ke’Bryan Hayes. The Pirates are in rebuild mode so there is no pressure on Hayes to perform immediately. He’ll turn 23 prior to the start of the 2020 season and has spent the last four years progressing through the Pirates minor league system.

There is no doubt in any prospect analysts mind that Hayes is already looking like an elite defender. His defensive ratings for fielding put him as high as a 70 (in the 20-80 rating system) with a 60-grade arm. He’s quick both in the field and on the bases.

Hayes projects to be a decent hitter but there is uncertainty about his power. If that’s able to be developed, the Pirates will have themselves a true five-tool player.

Last year, Hayes accumulated 480 plate appearances for AAA Indianapolis Indians and hit .265 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. Hayes has a good, yet still developing, eye that has kept his K-rate below 20% throughout his minor league career.

The top available third base free agents (Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas) will likely demand a salary that wouldn’t make sense for the Pirates at this stage. Some older veterans (Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, or Eric Sogard) might be feasible but ultimately if the team isn’t expected to compete, wouldn’t it make sense to see what the Pirates have in their younger players?

What do you think?

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Checking in at number 9 on the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects list from the 2019 season is utility man Kevin Kramer
As part of the Seinfeld Pittsburgh Pirates connection, the selected UCLA infielder Kevin Kramer in the 2nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft. This came after selection University of Arizona infielder Kevin Newman in the 1st round of the draft that summer.

Like Newman, Kramer primarily played shortstop in college. This led to Kramer moving to second base early in his professional career. However, he has also played third base and the corner outfield spots, in addition to the two middle infield positions during his professional career.

Kramer made his MLB debut during the 2018 season but struggled mightily. This led to the left-handed hitting utility man starting the 2019 season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Kramer, however, did reach the MLB level once again in 2019.

With Indy, Kramer experienced some struggles in 2019. The 26-year-old slashed .260/.335/.417 with a .328 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 92. Kramer had a 10.4% extra base hit rate, .158 ISO, 9.6% walk rate, and a concerning 25.9% strikeout rate with Indy.

As he did in 2018, Kramer struggled with the Pirates in 2019 as well. In 50 MLB plate appearances Kramer slashed .167/.260/.190. While his 12.0% walk rate was healthy, his 34.0% strikeout rate was not. Additionally, he collected just one extra base hit. This is concerning as his power potential is what Kramer is best known for.

NEXT: The Pirates Pick Up Starling Marte’s Option
Through his first 90 career MLB plate appearances Kramer has struggled mightily. In these 90 PAs Kramer has slashed .152/.222/.165 with a 41.4% strikeout rate. He also had a bad season at Triple-A in 2019. He is now 26-years-old and not getting any younger. To be honest, it would not be a shocker if Kramer was removed from the 40-man roster at some point this offseason. If he is not, he is all but ticketed for Triple-A Indianapolis to start the 2020 season.