Newman is expected to serve as the Pirates' primary leadoff man in 2020, though he could also slot third ahead of cleanup hitter Josh Bell occasionally, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. After hitting seventh at the beginning of last year, Newman took full advantage of his opportunity to bat atop the order -- the 26-year-old slashed .328/.374/.502 in 75 games as a leadoff hitter. It remains to be seen how long he'll stick at shortstop, though. He ranked 22nd of 25 with a minus-1.7 dWAR (min. 800 innings). If Pittsburgh trades second baseman Adam Frazier, then Newman could shift to second, with standout defensive prospect Cole Tucker taking over at short. Regardless of where Newman plays in the field, his ability to hit for a high batting average and steal bases -- he swiped 16 bags in 24 tries in 2019 -- gives him fantasy value in two categories.
Newman, who finished eighth in 2019 in the NL batting race with a .308 average, is set to start the 2020 campaign as Pittsburgh's primary shortstop, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The 26-year-old saw action at both shortstop (104 games) and second base (23) as a rookie last year. He stole 16 bases (in 24 attempts) and spent the offseason working on "speed and defense." As a result, it wouldn't be surprising to see him surpass his projected stolen bases total for 2020. Newman may eventually settle in as the team's second baseman -- his minus-6 DRS at shortstop demonstrates his lack of range -- but he'll qualify at both middle infield spots in many leagues for 2020 and represents sneaky end-game value on a potential cellar-dwelling team.
Newman went 2-for-4 with a walkoff home run, five RBI and a walk during a 6-5 victory against the Reds on Friday. The 26-year-old delivered his fourth walkoff moment (one was an actual walk) of the season with a two-run blast in the ninth. Newman came into the night with just one home run at home this year, but his two long balls propelled the Pirates to a fifth straight win. Newman is batting .310 with 12 home runs, 64 RBI, 61 runs and 16 steals in 484 at-bats this season.
Newman is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Brewers. Newman is hitting .297 in September, but he went 0-for-8 over his last two games, so manager Clint Hurdle decided to give him a break. Cole Tucker will get the start at shortstop Sunday afternoon.
Newman went 2-for-6 with an RBI single in Thursday's loss to Seattle. He's slashing .379/.429/.563 in his last 112 plate appearances since Aug. 21, lifting his overall batting average to .317 -- good for sixth in the NL, right next to teammate Bryan Reynolds. Newman is showing few signs of slowing down after his disappointing late-season debut (.209/.247/.231) in 2018. He continues to thrive hitting exclusively out of the leadoff spot and has three hits in five career at-bats against Friday's starter Chase Anderson.