Last season, the Pirates finished dead last in both home runs and slugging percentage, but the lack of power doesn’t stop there. The Pirates haven’t finished better than 25th in home runs since 2015, when they hit 140 home runs — good for 23rd in the Majors. They haven’t finished better than 20th since they hit the sixth-most home runs with (156).
Bryan Reynolds is the only player who finished the year with the Pirates to reach double-digit home runs. Gregory Polanco (11) also did, but the Bucs cut ties with him in August. As a team the Pirates hit 124 home runs, 20 less than the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had the second fewest.
It’s been no secret that the lack of offense, particularly in the power department has been one of the reasons the Pirates haven’t reached the postseason or even been legitimate contenders since 2015.
While the Pirates won’t be near the top of the leaderboards in home runs or slugging percentage again this year, and almost certainly won’t be competing for a playoff spot, the lineup finally features some guys capable of doing some damage.
The Pirates could have four players in their lineup capable of blasting 20+ home runs at some point in 2022. Reynolds is one of them after hitting a career-high 24 a season ago. Additionally, Yoshi Tsutsugo is back in the fold, and his power potential was on display after putting on the Pirates uniform. He hit eight home runs in just 144 plate appearances in the black and gold.
The third candidate to reach 20 homers is Daniel Vogelbach, who signed with the Pirates on Tuesday. Vogelbach blasted 30 home runs with the Mariners during his All-Star campaign in 2019 and carries a lot of thump in his bat.
Finally, there’s Oneil Cruz, who figures to be up with the Pirates at some point relatively soon in 2022, if he doesn’t crack the Opening Day Roster. Cruz’s power was on full display in his brief stint with the Pirates to end the season when he hit a 408-foot home run in his last at-bat of the season. Fangraphs gives Cruz a 70-grade future power potential with an 80-grade raw power tool.
If the quartet do all reach the 20+ homerun plateau, it would be the first time the Pirates had four guys all reach at least 20 homers since 1999 when Brian Giles (39) Kevin Young (26) Al Martin (24) and Ed Sprague (22) all accomplished the feat.
Prospects on the cusp of the Major Leagues, such as Jack Suwinski, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Mason Martin all have power potential and all could reach the big leagues at some point this season.
This is not saying that the Pirates are going to be at the top of the ranks when it comes to their offense or power numbers. But between some already-established Major Leaguers, an outside addition and some emerging prospects, there should be some more fireworks at PNC Park this summer.