Last Season’s Fantasy Highlights
Despite a stint on the disabled for the first time in his career, Andrew McCutchen cemented his status as a top-three overall hitter. Starling Marte took another step towards upper echelon status. Top honors go to Josh Harrison as he filled in admirably all over the diamond, hitting homers and stealing bases left and right (and third and short). The whiffs many Expected from Gerritt Cole came to fruition, putting him on the verge of ace status.
What Has Changed?
Defensive-minded Francisco Cervelli replaces the departed Russell Martin behind the dish. Pedro Alvarez is slated to move across the diamond, taking his first baseman’s mitt with him, leaving the hot corner for Josh Harrison. Jung-Ho Kang comes over from Korea though his role is flux. He could usurp shortstop from Jordy Mercer, take over the utility vacated by Harrison or play third, leaving Harrison as the super-sub. A.J. Burnett returns to the Bucs’ rotation.
What to Expect:
The Pirates have made the wild card game the past two seasons, failing to capture either contest. A 180-200 inning campaign from Gerritt Cole would help and he looks ready to make that leap. As is, Starling Marte is a nice player but if he can shave off a few whiffs while coaxing a couple more walks, he could be special. That’s not a bad bet to make. Gregory Polanco should be given every opportunity to be the regular right fielder but if he continues to struggle against southpaws, Travis Snider looms. That said, Polanco’s modus operandi is to struggle initially at a new level then become acclimated and produce.
This Year’s Surprise:
Pedro Alvarez continues to strike out at an elevated rate giving Corey Hart a chance and he displaces El Toro at first base.
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