First Pitch: What are You Looking for From Gregory Polanco This Winter?

There wasn’t enough action for a Winter Leagues article this morning, but the performance of Gregory Polanco last night is worth noting, and not for a good reason. Polanco has made the headlines recently due to his power, homering twice over the last four days. That’s nice to see, but that’s basically all he has done this winter. Obviously it’s still early in the winter season, which is why I’m able to pose the question in the title for people to discuss, and not base an article on a small sample size.

Polanco is struggling this winter and he took it to another level on Saturday night when he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He drew a walk, but it was an intentional walk in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run already in scoring position. His team actually won on a walk-off grand slam, which is besides the point, but always an interesting side note.

Before last night, Polanco had eight strikeouts in 37 plate appearances. Not a great rate, but much better than his 37.4% strikeout rate during the 2020 regular season. Through ten games this winter, Polanco is hitting .108/.195/.270 in 41 plate appearances. He’s up to a 26.8% strikeout rate.

He’s basically facing the equivalent of Triple-A pitching in the Dominican. Some days he’s getting a big league player, some days a guy with brief MLB time, and occasionally he’s getting players who haven’t even made it to Triple-A yet, but the average competition level is the same as Triple-A. Coming from a player with his big league experience and success (he had an .839 OPS in 2018), you would expect  something better than the awful .153/.214/.325 slash line he put up during 2020 the season. You want to see something that shows that it wasn’t a fluke down year due to the strange schedule instead of getting an even bigger sample size than the 50 games he played this year for the Pirates. That .539 OPS from 2020 was as bad as it looks, but a .465 mark so far this winter looks even worse.

So all that being said, is there anything he could do at this point that will give you confidence going into 2021? One thing to remember is that the regular season in the Dominican is shortened this year from 50 games down to 30, while the playoffs have also been cut down. With Polanco’s team (Leones del Escogido) already playing 18 games, he’s basically halfway through his own regular season play right now. It’s not like past years where the best teams in the league are playing 70+ games. He doesn’t have a long time now to turn these extra winter at-bats into a positive.

Thoughts in the comments please. Don’t forget to check out our store for any holiday needs. If something needs to be mailed and get there before Christmas, don’t wait too long.

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