2021 Roster Review: Pittsburgh Pirates

61-101 (5th in Division; 27th in MLB)

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SP Wins: 28 (29th)

RP Wins: 33 (17th)

Saves: 25 (29th)

1+ Save: 3 (Richard Rodríguez 14, Chris Stratton 8, David Bednar 3)

100+ Ks: 2 (JT Brubaker 129, Wil Crowe 111)

.260+ AVG (min. 350 PA): 2 (Adam Frazier .324 [w/PIT; he hit .305 altogether], Bryan Reynolds .302)

65+ Runs: 1 (Reynolds 93)

65+ RBI: 1 (Reynolds 90)

10+ HRs: 3 (Reynolds 24, Gregory Polanco 11, Colin Moran 10)

5+ SBs: 1 (Polanco 14)

BEST BUY: Bryan Reynolds

Nothing sneaky here, their best player is their best buy. His rough 2020 proved to be a small sample fluke and his 2021 (142 wRC+) picked up right where his 2019 breakout (130 wRC+) left off. He went 90/90 R/RBI on the Pirates for crying out loud! He has great plate skills, a high AVG floor, and above average power.

ON THE RISE: Oneil Cruz

Cruz only got a sip of coffee in the majors, going 3-for-9 with a homer in two games to end the season. The 22-year-old spent the bulk of his season at Double-A, putting up a 136 wRC+ with 12 HR and 18 SB in 273 PA. Then he absolutely decimated Triple-A, hitting 5 HR in just 6 games with an insane .524/.655/1.286 line before getting that MLB taste. He will probably start 2022 back in Triple-A (after all, it was still just five games), but he should be up relatively early. His strikeout rate is a concern and could hold back his AVG, but he has a good shot at being a double-double bat with 5 months of playing time.

OFF THE RADAR: Roansy Contreras

Part of the Jameson Taillon deal, Contreras had a similar season to Cruz’s in terms of the bulk of it being in Double-A (54.3 IP) before brief stints in Triple-A (3.7) and the majors (3). He was elite in the minors with a 29% K-BB, 2.64 ERA, and 0.93 WHIP across the 58 innings while his one 3-inning MLB start was also good (but of course is too small to draw anything from). Similar to Cruz, he will likely open the year in Triple-A for a bit more seasoning but could get 4.5-5 months of MLB time, especially if he holds his own in his next call-up. He is a top 50 prospect with a three-pitch mix that should miss bats consistently in the majors.

HOT TAKE: Hoy Park will have a 20 HR/20 SB season as a super-utilityman in 2022.

There aren’t a ton of choices to drop hot takes with on this team as I suspect there will be a good bit of turnover and it would’ve been boring to do something with Ke’Bryan Hayes. Park came over from the Yankees in a midseason trade and really only showed off his patience (12% BB) in 149 PA as he managed just a 75 wRC+. However, he was damn near on a 30-30 pace in the minors (11 HR/12 SB in 293 PA). He has premium speed and if he brings more of his Triple-A skills to the majors, he can definitely have an impactful season.

ICYMI: While we’re talking double-doubles, Gregory Polanco had one (11 HR/14 SB) but it came with a 71 wRC+ and he’s no longer on the Pirates, so… yeah.

IF THE DH RETURNS: It would probably go to former American Leaguer Michael Chavis, who was traded over during the deadline. Maybe he would platoon with Colin Moran.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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I didn’t realize how good Cruz’s season was. I had him on my radar last season but for some reason just forgot about him this year.


Same. In retrospect, he may have mentally slipped out of my periphery after last September’s tragic car accident


I was actually wondering if that might be what happened to me, too.