How Marlon Byrd, John Buck Can Impact the Pirates' Playoff Run

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How Marlon Byrd, John Buck Can Impact the Pirates' Playoff Run

Looking to secure not only a postseason berth but the NL Central division title, the Pittsburgh Pirates have added a pair of veteran bats in a deal with the New York Mets.

According to a report from CBS Sports' Mike Axisa, outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck are heading to the Pirates in return for minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player yet to be announced.

The Mets balked at the idea of dealing Byrd at the deadline when they were not happy with any of the offers they received and were set on remaining competitive for the rest of the season.

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However, following the injury of Matt Harvey and sitting at 58-71 in fourth place in the NL East, they have recently changed their tune as the deadline nears.

The 19-year-old Herrera is doing great in his first year of full-season ball, hitting .265/.330/.421 with 41 extra-base hits and 56 RBI with 11 stolen bases. Baseball America had him ranked as the Pirates' No. 20 prospect following the 2012 season.

While Herrera is a solid young player with plenty of upside, the Pirates filled a major need with the acquisition of Byrd, who will likely step into the everyday right-field job for the remainder of the season.

After settling for a minor-league deal this offseason after a poor 2012, the 35-year-old has turned in arguably the best season of his career, hitting .285/.330/.518 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI.

Those numbers dwarf what Pirates right fielders have done this season. Here is a look at how Pirates players have performed at the position this year:

2013 Pirates Right Fielders
Travis Snider 71 G .224/.303/.316 2 HR 17 RBI 22 R
Jose Tabata 45 G .281/.352/.425 3 HR 13 RBI 15 R
Garrett Jones 23 G .189/.218/.405 4 HR 6 RBI 13 R
Alex Presley 10 G .222/.222/.407 1 HR 2 RBI 3 R
Josh Harrison 8 G .273/.333/.409 1 HR 2 RBI 4 R
Brandon Inge 5 G .143/.143/.429 1 HR 3 RBI 2 R
Andrew Lambo 5 G .154/.313/.231 0 HR 1 RBI 1 R
Russell Martin 1 G .000/.000/.000 0 HR 0 RBI 0 R
Felix Pie 1 G .000/.000/.000 0 HR 0 RBI 0 R
Totals .232/.297/.369 12 HR 44 RBI 60 R

Baseball Reference

On top of adding Byrd's bat to the lineup, the move also allows the team to platoon Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones at first base, which was the plan going into the season.

Sanchez has posted a .958 OPS against left-handed pitching with a .750 OPS overall, while Jones has a .731 OPS against right-handed pitching with a .703 OPS overall.

Byrd also adds some much-needed power to the middle of the Pirates lineup, as they are tied for 18th in MLB in home runs with 123, and 31 of those have come from slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The other piece heading to the Pirates in the deal is 33-year-old catcher John Buck, who ranks fourth among NL catchers with 15 home runs and 60 RBI. However, he's hitting just .215/.285/.367 on the year and had nine home runs and 25 RBI in the first month of the season.

He'd recently lost his starting job in New York to top prospect Travis d'Arnaud, and while he'll remain in a backup role for the Pirates, he gives the Pirates a bat off the bench with some pop.

Buck has played just seven career games at PNC Park, but he put up impressive numbers with a .333/.360/.375 line, including a double and five RBI. Meanwhile, Byrd has seen more action there from his time with the Cubs, hitting .250/.327/.320 in 27 games.

As it stands, the Pirates trail the Cardinals by a half-game in the NL Central, with the Reds sitting three games behind Pittsburgh in what promises to be a tight race.

With six games apiece remaining against the Cardinals and Reds, the Pirates will look to take home NL Central honors and avoid playing in the one-game Wild Card Round come October.

This deal certainly helps their chances of accomplishing that, shoring up a major hole in right field with a potential impact bat, and adding some bench depth as well.

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