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Tellez’s Power Surge Pleasing Pirates


It was bound to happen at some point this season. Pittsburgh Pirates’ first baseman Rowdy Tellez has found his hitting groove.

In sports, particularly baseball, there appears to be an infinite supply of numbers and statistics. Many calculations border on the absurd, let alone necessary. Give me RBIs, home runs, batting average, strikeouts, wins-losses, and maybe a handful of other easily trackable and useful ways to explain how a player is performing.

From the start of this MLB season, I struck with my basic tracking of Tellez’s performances in his first season with the Pirates.

With running a risk of boring you and not getting across in delivering my main message of Tellez’s current state of contributing to the Pirates, first and foremost, I apologize to Tellez. I wrote off his value to Pittsburgh baseball way too soon.

I watched him for six weeks during spring training. I’ve watched almost every game he’s appeared in this season on TV. A few weeks back, during my first visit to PNC Park on Federal Street in Pittsburgh, I took in a three-game series with the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Call it a coincidence or just reaching a comfort zone with his new team, but while in the Pirates’ clubhouse, I found a different Tellez than that I met at Pirate City and LECOM Park. He seems humbler and more approachable.

Now, for the numbers.

At his low point this season, as far as I can remember, Tellez was batting .175. This is terrible, offensively, no matter how you could spin hitting. The past 25 games, what a reversal. Tellez is hitting .351, five home runs, and is 27-for-77 at the plate. Not bad. Not bad at all.

As much as players’ numbers are out there for all to dissect, it’s the contract totals that fans seem to be obsessed with. On December 15, 2023, Tellez signed a one-year deal with the Pirates for a reported $3,200,000.

This kind of cash adds to the pressure of winning. You get the big bucks; you are expected to bring home World Series hardware. The Pirates were paying Tellez for the numbers he put up in 2022 when he was patrolling first base for the Milwaukee Brewers. 35 home runs. 116 hits. 89 RBIs.

This is the Tellez Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington was banking on. Last season with the Brewers, his numbers went south. 67 hits. 13 home runs. An anemic .215 batting average. The Pirates and club chairman of the board Bob Nutting’s checkbook rolled the dice in acquiring Tellez.

Through 74 games in manager Derek Shelton’s lineup thus far this season, Tellez has turned his season around. Heading into Sunday’s home game with the New York Mets, Tellez is responsible for belting seven home runs and 28 RBIs and is hitting .246. He has found his slugging groove.

With Shelton looking to keep the versatile and productive bat of Connor Joe in the lineup, the popular Joe has filled in at first base. With Tellez, in the past, it was usually a home run or strikeout. In the field, he is anything but a liability. Tellez has but one error this season.

With all the positive energy surrounding the Pirates’ young and successful pitching corps of Mitch Keller, Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, and Bailey Falter, for some, Tellez's rise from hitting horrors to a productive offensive threat could be easy to overlook.

From someone who thought Tellez was a mistake to sign, I’m doing a complete about–face. And I apologize for not having the patience and faith to believe Tellez would pull it together as a Pirate.

This past Friday’s game with the Mets was huge for the Pirates as a team and even bigger for Tellez individually.

PNC Park enjoyed its second sell-out of the 2024 season—37,037 packed the place. The score, Pirates 14 Mets 2, was secondary to what Tellez produced.

As a team, the Pirates slugged seven home runs. Tellez was responsible for two of them. The box score will tell you he had 5 RBIs. A solo home run in the fourth inning, and a grand slam poke in a Pirates’ six-run eighth inning, this was part of Tellez letting doubters know that he is back. He is back doing what he does best in the batter’s box.

Heading into Sunday’s game with the Mets, the Pirates are in third place, with a record of 42-46, in the National League’s Central Division. They are nine games behind the first-place Brewers. The All-Star break is fast approaching. Anything is possible, come MLB’s second half.

Rowdy Tellez is on the watch. Buckle up, Bucs fans, for baseball’s second half. Keep an eye on the big fella at first.


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