We are beginning with outfielders and catchers because the 2016 outlook on these positions remains remarkably similar to the 2015 personnel. You will see a steady dose of Billy Burns, while Josh Reddick and Jake Smolinski platoon in right field. Left field will be manned by Coco Crisp whenever he’s healthy, and Mark Canha and Sam Fuld when not.
The only significant shakeup that could be made is if Andrew Lambo is thoroughly impressive in Spring Training and makes the cut over either Fuld or Smolinski. However, the Pirates waited three whole seasons for Lambo to shine, but he was unable to leave a mark in the 20 or so games a year that he played for the Buccos.
This leaves the issue of whether or not Crisp will be able to return to his 2013 self that cemented him as a club leader and fan favorite. Through 44 games in 2015, Crisp suffered the first negative WAR campaign of his entire career at -0.7. The key to not repeating this performance in 2016 is obviously his health.
The club has taken precautions to try to preserve Crisp’s effectiveness, particularly by moving him to left field which should be less stressful on his body.
Crisp may be aging, but he is also a career 28.7 WAR player. Every year he has logged over a hundred games, he has been a tremendously valuable asset to his team. If he isn’t nagged by his injury troubles this year, he will fill the outfield production void that existed in 2015.
Conclusion: A Crisp rebound could be the difference between losing one game and winning up to four games.
Next: The Catchers