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Pirates Analysis

Greg Allen Playing His Way Into Important Role With Pirates

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In Thursday’s spring training game against the Phillies, Greg Allen showed off his speed, arguably his best tool, by legging out a groundball hit to first base. Not only did Allen get rewarded with a hit, but he also got an RBI as Kevin Newman came around to score on the play.

That wasn’t the only part of his game that was on display in the contest as Allen belted a homerun to right center field for his second home run of the Spring. Allen isn’t known for his power, but is clearly capable of driving the baseball from time to time, adding another interesting aspect to his profile.

Allen came over to the Bucs in November after the Yankees let him go due to their crowded outfield mix. The thought may have been that Allen could provide a nice fourth outfield option but so far this spring, Allen has emerged and could be the Opening Day starter in one of the corner outfield spots.

So far this spring, Allen has three hits in seven at bats, including the two homeruns. He’s driven in four, walked twice, swiped a base, been plunked twice and has only struck out once.

The 29-year-old is a good defensive outfielder. His glove plays much better in either right or left field which would be his role in Pittsburgh. For his career, he’s been responsible for six defensive runs saved in 85 games in left, and three DRS in 38 games in right.

In terms of the other outfielders in the mix, Bryan Reynolds and Ben Gamel both have their spots locked up and will be penciled into the lineup when the Bucs break camp. The same swing and miss issues that plagued Anthony Alford last season are again proving to be an issue this spring. He’s fanned seven times in 11 plate appearances and has yet to record a hit. Cole Tucker has looked good, but he may better be used in a super-utility role.

There’s a chance Allen could even find himself at the top of the Pirates lineup. His speed certainly plays the part, and Allen does a pretty good job of getting on base, especially last season when his OBP was .417 in 48 plate appearances with the Yankees, and .442 across 263 minor league plate appearances. He crowds the plate and gets hit with pitches at a high rate, five times last season with the Yankees and 19 times in Triple-A, helping to raise that OBP.

It seems as though Allen will have an important role with the Pirates, at least to start the season. He’s done a good job of separating himself from the pack, and he has a lot of intriguing tools in his game to make an impact. We’re less than two weeks until Opening Day.

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