<
>
Get ESPN+

Karablog: How to value Pirates outfielders, including red-hot Gregory Polanco

Gregory Polanco has shown flashes of his breakout 2016 season in the early going. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

It was not that long ago that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a trio of top-20 outfielders and arguably the best crew in the sport. It was back in 2015 that Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco each played in 153 or more games and scored 83 or more runs while combining for 51 home runs, 229 RBIs and 68 stolen bases. Each was a valuable fantasy asset and then ... things changed a bit. McCutchen finally had a bad year in 2016 and became too expensive for the franchise. Marte stopped hitting home runs and then missed half of 2017 due to suspension. Polanco hit for power in 2016 but served three DL stints last season.

Fast-forward to 2018, and McCutchen plays for the San Francisco Giants, ostensibly replaced by released Tampa Bay Ray Corey Dickerson, and he and his outfield mates are thriving. On Thursday, the Pirates won their ninth game in 12 tries, and Polanco was the star, hitting a pair of solo home runs, including a rare one off a left-handed pitcher, while Dickerson doubled and drew a pair of walks. Marte had a rough game, but, hey, he is stealing bases and drawing more walks than ever.