Who will be the Pirates MVP, ace, best rookie/Bucco superlatives for 2023

Which players will take big steps this year

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Baseball season is here and like the class superlatives in high school, who will be standouts for the 2023 Pirates?

Who will be their MVP, best pitcher, most surprising and more, plus a record prediction with myself and Senior Writer at 937theFan.com, Andrew Limberg.

Pirates MVP

AL-Ke’Bryan Hayes-he showed it in the field and those hard-hit balls will start finding grass with no shifts and the gained muscle in the offseason.
He quietly stole 20 bases and this year will be a jump.

JH-Bryan Reynolds-still the best hitter on the team and will benefit from Oneil Cruz hitting in front of him and more veteran bats behind him.

Ace pitcher (who will be the best starter)

AL-Mitch Keller-coming off his best season as a regular starter, Keller will continue his run from last year when he made 29 starts with a 3.91 ERA with 138 strikeouts to 60 walks

JH-Roansy Contreras-we have yet to see him in a full season. In 18 starts last year, 3.79 ERA and a three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Contreras will emerge as the

Most surprising

AL-Travis Swaggerty-the former first-round pick hit .379 with three homers and 10 RBI with a .471 OBP in the Spring. He’s the only true centerfielder of the group and had a .348 OBP last year at AAA.

JH-Reliever Collin Holderman was a consideration, but Carlos Santana is playing surprising defense at first and finally gives the Pirates a true first-baseman.
He hit .192 with Seattle last year, but the power was there. That will continue & he will benefit from eliminating the major shifts.

Newcomer you are most excited to see

AL-Andrew McCutchen-for all the reasons you think. The reunion of Cutch with the fan base is going to bring thousands to PNC Park to relive those playoff years. He still can hit, in the last two years combining for 44 homers and 149 RBI

JH-Vince Velasquez-obviously the McCutchen story, the add of Rich Hill, Canaan Smith-Njigba are all exciting, but if Vince Velasquez can settle a rotation spot at least until some of the younger arms are ready, it’ll be well worth the $3.1 million.

Rookie of the Year

AL-Swaggerty-big fan of the 25-year-old who initially wouldn’t appear to have a position, but will grow into a roll this year

JH-Ji Hwan Bae-the utility player brings speed and speed and options for manager Derek Shelton. The lefty-hitter-.362 OBP last year with 23 doubles, 6 triples, 8 homers and 30 steals in AAA.

Minor-leaguer you are most excited to see

AL-Quinn Priester-the 6’3”, 210-pound first-round pick dealing with a couple of injuries early in his career. He’s still only 22-years-old and not starting his season until June finished with a combined 3.29 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP from single to triple A.

JH-Endy Rodriguez-the switch-hitting catcher/utility player ripped up High A for 16 homers in 88 games, then hit .356 in AA before ending the year with 10 hits in 22 at bats with eight RBI at AAA. He may play multiple positions in his MLB career.


AL-77-85-it’s time to take a big jump and 77 is a big jump from last year. Another year of Cruz, Reynolds, the new bats and better pitching will lead to better results.

JH-75-87-with the influx of Cruz, Hayes, Contreras with some of the veterans added, plus a division devoid of depth, I remain optimistic that some of that youth will turn into wins as they build towards an important 2024.

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