Mike Persak: What we think we know about the Pirates at the season's (almost) halfway point

Mike Persak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Baseball

The Pirates are almost halfway done with their season. That unofficially important mark will come Wednesday, when they wrap up a two-game set against the best team in baseball, the New York Yankees.

So here's what we think we know about the Pirates as they get set to break into the second half of the season.

Young guys need time

This could be taken in a couple of ways. For one, yes, young guys need playing time. In part due to injuries, the Pirates have given a whole lot of players a shot in the majors this season, leading all of MLB by using 53 different players.

Many of those have been rookies. They're the hopeful pieces of the future, and for many, the allure of this season starts and ends with young guys who could develop into contributors on the next good Pirates team. To see that come to fruition, they might as well play right now.

But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the need to wait and see what the rookies will turn into before writing them off or anointing them king of baseball.


Take Oneil Cruz, for instance. The 6-foot-7 shortstop has flashed every tool in his bag with the Pirates this season. He's setting Statcast on fire, hitting the ball, throwing the ball and running with various elite velocities. And yet, he's hitting just .204 with a .677 OPS through his first 14 games.

Take Jack Suwinski, even. He's probably performed best among all Pirates rookies, hitting 13 homers with a .782 OPS. You'll remember, though, that Suwinski was hitting just .167 after 22 games back on May 21.

The point is that finding consistency in the majors is difficult. Not everyone comes up and rakes like Ke'Bryan Hayes in 2020 or Bryan Reynolds in 2019. Not every rookie is the same. After the year, we may have a better understanding of each individual player, but it takes time. That's not to say all will impress and slot into the future plan, but patience is a virtue in prospect analysis, too.

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