Drew Sutton has been a well-traveled man this 2012 season. On May 20th, Sutton was claimed off waivers by the Pirates and before he could even think about dressing in a Pirates uniform, he was shipped out to Tampa Bay the very next day for a player to be named later.
Almost exactly one month later, the Pirates yet again acquired Sutton from waivers from the Rays. This time around, the Pirates had bigger plans for Sutton.
Since being reacquired on June 22nd, Sutton has played in nine of the Pirates 12 games in that span.
Sutton, 29, has bounced around the majors since being drafted in 2004 by the Houston Astros. Since then, he has played in the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays organizations.
Spending most of his time in the minors, Sutton only has 262 plate apperances at the major league level. Sutton is not considered to have a high ceiling with a boat-load of talent, but what he does have is something the Pirates were intrigued by–versatility and stability.
Sutton can play every position on the diamond with the exceptions of catcher and centerfield. But more so than versatility, Sutton brings a knack for getting on base, something the Pirates are not too familiar with.
The Pirates rank dead last in the National League with a .298 OBP. If there is one thing that sticks out about Sutton’s numbers throughout his professional career , it’s his OBP. Sutton has a career .378 OBP through nine minor league seasons.
So far with the Pirates, he is hitting .387 with one home run and four rbi to go along with a .424 OBP. All of those numbers will most likely revert back to form, but the OBP most likely will hang around the .360-.380 range.
Jose Tabata and Alex Presley were suppose to be the table-setters at the top of this Pirates lineup, but both have struggled mightily in that role. Now with Tabata sent down to AAA Indianapolis and Presley on the shelf with concussion-like-symptoms, Sutton has found himself atop the lineup in the leadoff spot.
Tabata (now in AAA) has a .295 OBP in 2012. Presley has shown more life as of late, but still has a miserable .276 OBP.
Sutton does not have the speed of a prototypical leadoff hitter, but what he does have is a knack for getting on base, something that no one else in the Pirates lineup has been able to do with consistency with the exceptions of Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.
Sutton is starting to feel at home in Pittsburgh after his heroics on Tuesday night. Sutton came through big for the Pirates Tuesday night, winning the game against the Astros with a walkoff home run.
“You better enjoy it because you never know,” Sutton said. “You get up-and-down time in the big leagues, you try to stick with clubs. It makes it much more sweet when you do get here, you have moments like these.
So for now, Clint Hurdle has decided to roll with the hot hand and to his credit it has worked. Most believe Sutton’s ceiling in the show is a utility player, but right now Sutton is going to get every opportunity to show he belongs as an every-day player on the Pirates.
As long as Sutton continues to get on base, there should be no problem with him getting more and more playing time.