By Jason Shetler
It was at this time in 2014 that Gregory Polanco was the Pirates top prospect in the organization. After tearing apart AAA pitching that year, he received his call up midseason. Polanco’s rookie campaign however was disappointing, and he was even demoted back to AAA Indianapolis.
2015 was a tale of two different players for Polanco, as he put up just a .653 OPS in the first half while posting a .749 OPS post All-Star break. Despite having just a .320 on base percentage, he recorded 27 stolen bases, which were actually sixth most in the National League. Defensively, Polanco wound up being above average overall with 13 outfield assists, a 6.4 UZR and had 11 Defensive Runs Saved. Factoring in the improved second half offense along with the defense and baserunning, he was two-win player (2.3 WAR). So what should the Pirates realistically expect from Polanco in 2016?
Most are projecting Polanco to be the Pirates breakout player this season. Getting off to a better start would obviously be helpful. During the offseason, Polanco added some muscle to his frame, which you can clearly see in the photo image. Hopefully that’ll help out in the power department. FanGraphs projects Polanco to post a .769 OPS and to have a 3.6 WAR. My projection has him putting up a .790 OPS and to also be a three-win player with a WAR of 3.5. When it comes to advanced metrics, being worth three wins means a player is below All-Star caliber, but is certainly a solid regular. Realistically, the Pirates shouldn’t expect Polanco to be an elite player this season, but to at least be better than he was last year.