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First Half Report Card for the 2017 Pirates

The first half of the Pirates’ season is in the books, so now is the perfect time to assess each player’s performance so far.

Keep in mind these grades are based on a curve of their expectations for the year. Chris Stewart wasn’t going to be an All-Star, so it won’t be fair to judge him the same as Andrew McCutchen.

A

Josh Harrison: His glove is as good as ever and his versatility has been a lifesaver. He’s also contributing a lot more offensively now that he’s healthy. His ,369 OBP has been aided by a league high 18 HBPs, but he is chasing out of the zone less and has 21 walks- one away from his career high in 2014.

Ivan Nova: He is currently fourth in the NL in bWAR (3.3), ninth in ERA (3.08), first in walks per nine (1.083) and fourth in innings pitched (108). He looks like the steal of the offseason.

Felipe Rivero: The velocity has crept up to 102 MPH while the ERA has dropped to 0.82. Mix in 10 strikeouts per nine and the Pirates may have the best lefty reliever in the NL.

A-

Andrew McCutchen: McCutchen would have been a lock for the All-Star game had he started this torrid stretch a week or two earlier. He still rocketed back into the top 10 for fWAR among NL outfielders (1.8).

Jameson Taillon: If overcoming cancer was somehow not impressive enough, 1.7 bWAR and a 2.97 ERA in 10 starts is.

B+

Juan Nicasio: If you throw away two bad outings in June against the Cubs and Cardinals, Nicasio’s ERA is hovering around one. Even with those outliers, he still has been the second best reliever.

Jordy Mercer: It took him a month and a half for his bat to make the trip from Bradenton, but Merer has provided slightly above average offense and defense at a premium position. He’s on pace for the best season of his career.

B

Wade LeBlanc: Inning eating extraordinaire. He’s been shaky at times, but his ability to piggyback on Tyler Glasnow’s starts in April saved the bullpen on multiple occasions.

Trevor Williams: He earned a major league job out of spring training and hasn’t let up since. He’s had to wear a couple bad outings, but he has filled in nicely as a backend starter. Five of his last seven appearances have been quality starts.

B-

Josh Bell: He just set the franchise rookie record with his 30th extra-base hit before the All-Star Game, but the bat has been streaky and fairly close to league average overall. His glove has been much better than expected.

Gerrit Cole: Cole has 11 Cy Young quality starts and six terrible ones. Those six bad starts may be the reason why he stays a Pirate through the trade deadline.

John Jaso: He’s been one of the best bats in the lineup since May. Just don’t look at his April.

Jose Osuna: He just missed the cut out of spring training, but his bat has played well at the major league level. His defense has left something to be desired.

C+

Elias Diaz: He is struggling at the dish recently and has made more mistakes in the field than expected, but after watching Erik Kratz get significant playing time last year, his contributions have been well appreciated.

Adam Frazier: He has been at the mercy of the BABIP gods. He’s probably too streaky to be a leadoff hitter.

C

Francisco Cervelli: He showed a little extra-base pop early, but he’s been riddled with bugs and a pair of trips to the concussion DL. So far he’s been about a league average bat with a slightly above average glove.

David Freese: He’s slowed down significantly after his trip to the DL, but he carried the offense the first couple weeks of the season. He would probably benefit from a lesser role.

Jhan Marinez: He hasn’t had a lot of high leverage opportunities, but he’s done a good job eating innings.

Chris Stewart: Stewart has hit two triples, proving anything is possible.

C-

Chad Kuhl: He tied a major league record with 12 consecutive starts going five innings or less. He’s developing a curveball at the major league level, and it’s been a smoother transition than most expected. He’s probably still pitching for his job with Steven Brault tearing up AAA.

Gift Ngoepe: His journey to the majors is incredible and he broke new ground for an entire continent. He started hot, but he cooled off and eventually went back to AAA despite good defense.

D

Johnny Barbato: Expectations were low, but he couldn’t keep the ball in the park.

Tyler Glasnow: Glasnow was given the job out of spring training because Drew Hutchison could not find his footing. While his walk problem has become less exaggerated, he still had a hard time locating his pitches and was roughed around before his demotion in June.

Daniel Hudson: Hudson rattled off a good stretch of outings in June, but he has faltered in high leverage situations. He has four losses, a -0.2 fWAR, a 4.67 ERA and -1.56 WPA. It’s been a bad season for the handpicked set-up man.

Gregory Polanco: I’m convinced he’s hurting more than he’s letting on. His timing seems off at the dish, and he had to go back to right field after failing to adjust to PNC Park’s cavernous left.

F

Antonio Bastardo: He probably only got a second shot because the club was unwilling to eat the salary.

Phil Gosselin: He had a utility infielder job handed to him and threw it away with a .135 average and some costly errors.

Alen Hanson: Hanson was never going to make it as a big leaguer unless he played every day. He didn’t show enough promise in spring training or off the bench to warrant that time.

Starling Marte: The 80 game suspension automatically gave him a failing grade. Even before then he could not handle center field. Clint Hurdle announced he will play left when he returns July 18.

Max Moroff: He’s looked fantastic in AAA and has potential to be a power hitting utility infielder, but he has struggled to put the ball in play.

Tony Watson: Strikeouts are down, the ERA is up and he lost his closer job. He also seems to lost his edge on his changeup. Last year, batters hit .135 against it with a 27.6% whiff rate. In the first half of 2017, they hit .350 with five home runs and a 19.3% whiff rate.

F-

Jung-Ho Kang: Don’t drink and drive.

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