Coming into the 2018 season, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco was a massive unknown. Polanco was a tantalizing player up until the start of the 2018 season, often showing major flashes of stardom with impressive hot streaks, but too often he’d get mired in month-long slumps, ultimately hurting his overall numbers.
The 2018 season shaped up to be a big prove-it year for the long, lanky right fielder, but he got off to a dreadful start in March and April after team executives and coaches raved about how great of shape he was in.
Polanco came north for the season and promptly hit .198 in 101 at-bats between March and April. In that month, Polanco put up a 97 wRC+, with a .313 wOBA, which was nothing to write home about.
May was much of the same for the right fielder, as he hit just .232, but saw his wRC+ jump to 103 and his wOBA rise to .323. At that time, many Pirate fans — myself included — started to lose patience in a guy who had all this talent, but simply couldn’t put it together.
At that time, I was ready to move on and play Austin Meadows every day.
Boy was I wrong.
Since that time in late May, Polanco has gone on a tear, putting up wRC+ numbers of 171 and 164 in June and July before slumping to 75 in August, but he also had a .425 and .414 wOBA in June and July, becoming a massive part of the Pirates’ success offensively.
In the second half alone, Polanco has a slash line of .266/.330/.506, good for an above average OPS of .836, a wRC+ of 120, and a .349 wOBA.
Sometimes, patience is a virtue, and with Polanco that could never be more true.
The 2018 season has been more than just a few flashes for Polanco, who credits a lot of his success this season to an adjustment on where he stands at the plate, sliding off the plate some to allow him more coverage of the strike zone.
After a rough start, Polanco has put it all together offensively and defensively, aside from the occasional gaffe. It’s hard not to call Polanco’s 2018 season a resounding success.
He’s become a mainstay in the lineup, and a key bat to build the daily lineup around day-to-day. Now, the big test for Polanco to carry his offensive output through the end of the season and start off next season in the same groove.
If he does that, the Pirates are cooking with gas in right field for the foreseeable future.