MLB Season in Review: Pittsburgh Pirates Hitters

By R.J. Anderson //

Biggest Surprise

Neil Walker stuck around the Pirates’ system for years as their next big catching prospect. For a while, he followed in the footsteps of J.R. House – the last great Pirates’ catching prospect who busted in the minors. But a position switch and depth failure led to Walker getting a chance at the majors this season. He responded by hitting .296 with a dozen homers.

Biggest Bust

Garrett Jones hit 21 home runs in 358 plate appearances last season. He’s hit 20 in 602 this season. His batting average has dropped nearly 50 points. It seems unlikely Jones will enter next season with any kind of assured playing time. Akinori Iwamura fits the bill too, although he is well removed from the Pirates’ organization and resides with the Athletics now.

2011 Keeper Alert

Andrew McCutchen continues to solidify himself as one of the best center fielders in the National League. Posting a .286/.365/.471 slash line as a 22-year-old is hard to top, so he may have disappointed by hitting only .279/.356/.447 this season. But he did manage to cut down on his strikeouts and continues to run the bases and play the field well. Youngster Pedro Alvarez is also worthy of a keep in all but the shallowest leagues.

2011 Regression Warning

Walker is the name here because the rest of the Pirates’ hitters are either legitimately good or awful with little in between and little due to bad or good luck. An elevated .342 batting average on balls in play and more than three times as many strikeouts as walks don’t exactly scream “.296 hitter!”

For more on Pedro Alvarez and better keeper prospects, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.

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