Coming into the 2014 MLB season, Gregory Polanco was rated the Pittsburgh Pirates second best prospect. The center fielder projected as a five-tool player, and was likely to make his debut at some point in the first half. He started the season in Triple-A and went on an absolute tear. The 22-year-old hit .347/.405/.540 with seven home runs, 15 stolen bases and 49 RBIs. He was called up to the big leagues on June 10, and the team’s performance has made a turn in that time. Fans have taken notice with prices for Pirates tickets at PNC Park increasing as well.
Since Polanco’s promotion the Pirates have gone 12-7. Before the call-up they were 30-33 as part of a very disappointing start to the season. The start to the season was especially disappointing after the Pirates made the postseason for the first time in over a decade in 2013. Even as they are currently in fourth place in the NL Central, the Pirates are just two games out of the second wild card spot in the National League.
According to TiqIQ, before Polanco’s call-up Pirates tickets had an average price of $64.44 on the secondary market, one of the lowest figures in the league. For reference, the average ticket price in the MLB this season is right around $80, and Yankees and Red Sox tickets are at the top of the league with average prices over $140. While Pirates prices haven’t jumped to the levels in the first couple weeks Polanco has been in the majors, prices are up 4.22% for a current average of $67.16. The over 4% price increase is not typical for a baseball team in a month’s span. Pittsburgh now has an average price above that of St. Louis Cardinals tickets and Cincinnati Reds tickets to have the third most expensive average price in the NL Central behind the Brewers and Cubs.
In Polanco’s 19 starts this season, he has not disappointed. The rookie is hitting .288/.374/.375 with two home runs, four stolen bases and 10 RBIs. This also included at least one hit in each of his first 11 games and reaching base in his first 14 games after being called up from the minors. There is a reason he is considered a five-tool player, and the way he mans the outfield, might be his most impressive quality. Pairing him with former MVP Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte could turn the Pirates outfield defense into the envy of the league.
While Polanco himself is not the sole reason for a price spike in Pittsburgh, but his call-up allowed the Pirates to replace Travis Snider in both the batting order and the outfield. At the time of Polanco’s promotion, Snider was hitting .230 with below average defense. Replacing Snider filled a hole in the lineup, making the Pirates a better team.
The Pirates had been a middling team all season. A year after making the postseason it looked like Pittsburgh was going to suffer through more of the same. But with the promotion of one of their top prospects, the team has turned its season around and now is on the doorstep of another postseason berth. The city has certainly bought into the excitement with increased ticket prices throughout the remainder of the Pirates schedule, and those numbers could go even higher as this hot streak continues.
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates