The Pittsburgh Pirates have been on fire in the batter’s box through 12 games. They lead the National League in home runs (17), batting average (.278), on base percentage (.353), slugging percentage (.479), and wRC+ (129). The team is clicking on all cylinders. Everyone is contributing.
The Pirates are scoring 6.42 runs per game, second in the majors trailing only the Los Angeles Angels. They are drawing walks being one of nine teams to walk at a rate of at least 10 percent. The Pirates aren’t striking out. Their K rate of 16.4 percent is the second lowest in baseball. Only the Angels strike out less. The Pirates lead the bigs in isolated power at .200. They have also been a bit lucky in that their BABIP is the fourth highest in baseball at .304.
Numbers aside, everything is going right at the moment. The new additions to the lineup have played a key part in that. Let’s take a look.
Moran was acquired via the Gerrit Cole trade. Not a lot of people, myself included, thought much of the deal. Moran was blocked by Alex Bregman. He was injured last season. He seemed like an add on to the deal with Joe Musgrove being the meat.
Moran has not played like an add on so far this season.
He is hitting .343/.425/.486 with one home run in 40 plate appearances. He has five walks (12.5 percent) and six strikeouts (15 percent). His hard hit rate sits at 41.4 percent. His soft contact rate is just 17.2 percent. A lot of talk this offseason suggested that Moran put a heavy focus on hitting fly balls last year. His fly ball rate so far this season is 37.9 percent. League average is 35.8 percent. The difference is slight. Instead, Moran has been spraying line drives all over the field. His line drive rate is 31 percent. League average is 20.9 percent.
With his current approach, there is no reason to think this production shouldn’t continue. Moran has a quiet swing and doesn’t do a lot with his hands. He is short to the ball and has a good eye. He hits to all fields and has actually gone the other way more than pulling the ball this season.
Sure, Moran probably won’t be hitting over .340 by season’s end. How about .290 or even .300? That doesn’t feel like a reach. Add 15-20 home runs and the Pirates would have themselves one of the league’s best seven hitters.
The Tampa Bay Rays gifted Corey Dickerson to the Pirates early in Spring Training for Daniel Hudson. Hudson was later released.
Dickerson is hitting .341/.386/.610 with a home run in the early going. His six doubles are tied for second in the MLB. After recording just one hit in the Detroit series, Dickerson has been white hot lately. He is 13 for his last 28.
That said, he hasn’t been necessarily knocking the cover off of the ball. With a towering BAPIP of .382, Dickerson has been a bit lucky. His hard hit rate of 28.6 percent is slightly below league average. Dickerson has been feasting on medium contact and finding holes. He hits the ball to all fields which is a plus but his current success a the plate may not be sustainable.
The hard contact will come in time as his career rate is 34 percent. During his current hot streak, his hard hit rate is 32.5 percent. Dickerson slots nicely in the five spot of the batting order. Since being acquired, I had confidence that Dickerson would be able to match Andrew McCutchen‘s production of the past two years. I also think he will end up outproducing Cutch this season.
He won’t hit .341 all year. He probably won’t slug .610. A line of .280/.330/.500 seems doable. 25 home runs is likely. Dickerson is a nice player. He isn’t a superstar but he is solid. His glove work in the spacious left field of PNC Park has been solid. Dickerson was just the player the Pirates needed this offseason and the trade looks like a home run right now. With two years remaining of team control after this year, this trade might end up being highway robbery.