Departures could improve infield defense

After the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Neil Walker to the Mets and released Pedro Alvarez this offseason, fans didn’t think the club could rebuild the infield defense. They’re wrong.

While Alvarez and Walker combined to hit 43 home runs last season and started more than 75 percent of Pittsburgh’s games at first and second base, respectively, according to pirates.mlb.com, John Jaso looks to step up in his role as first baseman.

Alvarez committed 23 errors and cost the team 14 runs at first base in his last season with the Pirates. Jaso, who has been working on his new position in Bradington, Florida, plans to ready himself to improve the team’s defense.

Last season, the Pirates ranked 27th with a defensive efficiency ratio, or the defensive effectiveness of a team in converting batted balls into outs by the fielders, of .680.

The club also looks for improvement from shortstop Jordy Mercy and third baseman Jung Ho Kang’s on his eventual return to play. Josh Harrison will take over for Walker, returning to his position as third baseman where he played alongside Mercer in the minor leagues.

This season could lead to a more productive year at the plate and defensively.

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