Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pittsburgh Pirates Off Season Primer: Second Base

Moving on through the Pirates off season primer we will check out Second base.  The Pirates had eight players play second base in 2017. I'm only going to mention those with 100+ innings, still with the team and Sean Rodriguez. (stats from fangraphs.com)

The List

Josh Harrison 83 games, 2.6 WAR, 3.6 DEF, $7.75M
Adam Frasier 42 games, 1.1 WAR, -4.9 DEF, $0.5M
Max Moroff 28 games, 0.5 WAR, 5.5 DEF, $0.5M
Gift Ngoepe 20 games, 0.0 WAR, 0.3 DEF, $0.5M
Sean Rodriguez 8 games, -0.5 WAR, -1.2 DEF, $5.75M

Brief overview

Josh Harison is generally a fine second basemen.  for 2017 he ranked around the middle of the pack among qualified MLB second basemen.  J-Hay every day happens today.  Harrison played 128 games but only 83 from his primary position of second.  As long as his health checks out she should be starting somewhere out of spring.

Adam Frasier.  Man he can hit.  In his first full season playing a total of 121 games and over 450 plate appearances he did a very fine job at the plate.  Look for big things from him. His problem is he isn't the greatest fielder.  Probably better suited to a utility or coner outfield that can play infield in a pinch.

Max Moroff is a defensive wizard the only thing that has held him back is his work with the bat.  In 2015 he had a 'break out' year in the minors slashing .292/.374/.349 and followed up the next season with a .367 OBP in AAA that earned him a quick look in 2016, in 2017 he continued getting on base at an astounding rate of .390 which eventually got him back in the show.  He only slashed .200/.302/.325 in 140 PAs but he also had 3 HRs a triple and 21 RBIs.  Not great buy any stretch but worth watching.  His value isn't his bat however.  If he can get close to league average with his bat he would have a starting job somewhere.

Gift Ngoepe, If Moroff is a defensive wizard, Ngoepe is the grand wizard.  He is another that has been held back by his bat.  He is a great story as well.  Hopefully he can get it going at the plate and make some sort of impact.

Sean Rodriguez,  brought back in a late trade that probably cost a little too much.  He is a great guy to have around especially with the questions about Kang.  He has played every postion in his career except catcher and pitcher and done so fairly well.  Last season in Pittsburgh he hit great over 342 PAs and 140 games but after his accident hasn't gotten completly back to form.  Expect him to be better next season where ever he ends up on the field.

My opinion

Josh is the starting second basemen with the current roster.  That can easily change however depending on what happens at third or if another second basemen is picked up. Max and Gift are more defensive/depth options right now until their bats produce. Adam's fielding just isn't good enough to put him there for the long term most likely working with Sean as a Utility player filling in where and when needed.

The offseason/draft

Everything depends on Kang.  The team will be looking for a third base option or possibly a second base option and move Harrison to third.  Neil Walker is now a free agent.  He will probably demand too much money after being paid $17M last season and he is probably looking for a four to six year deal.  Probably not the best option considering Newman, Kramer and Tucker should all be ready the next couple years.  But if if he takes a discount on fewer years, a no trade and more option years.. why not? PR would be great and I think few fans would mind bringing him home.  It wont' happen but it is fun to think about.  Outside of that there really is not much in the way of second base free agents that would be equal or better than Josh Harrison.

The upcoming draft should not include a middle infielder the the first few rounds unless it is a steal of a pick.  Always take the top talent available but it shouldn't be a focus right now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pittsburgh Pirates Off Season Primer: First Base

To continue where I left off we go on to first base.  The Pirates had six players act as first basemen this season, I'm going to leave out those with less than five innings.

The List

Josh Bell 147 games, 0.8 WAR, -11.9 DEF, $0.5M
Jose Osuna 23 games, -0.5 WAR, -1.4 DEF, $0.5M
John Jaso 29 games, 0.3 WAR, 0.4 DEF, $4M
David Freese 3 games, N/A (at first), -0.6 DEF, $6.25M

Brief overview

Josh Bell is starting to live up to the hype.  On the season went .255/.334/.466 tied the Pirate rookie record for home runs and greatly improved his defense at first.  Baring something crazy he's the teams first baseman for years to come.  He still needs improvement at first and will need to watch that AVG/OBP but he was still seeing quite a few pitches so his eye is still pretty good.

Jose Osuna has some power, still needs some work both offensively and defensivly.  Played mostly corner outfield and first during the season and did so reasonably well.

John Jaso didn't have much luck this season. He came out of his slump for a short time but fell hard again.  Jaso did a great job learning first base last year but it might be the end of the road for him as he is contiplating retirement.

David Freese didnt' have to play first much this season, thankfully everyone else stayed pretty healthy.

My opinion

With out a doubt, Bell is the first basemen next season.  With both Freese and S-Rod back on the team Osuna might end up back in AAA until needed or he forces the issue.  This is especially true if Kang returns.  No changes 'need' to be made at this position.  If anything they could attempt to trade Freese if Kang is returning and call Osuna back, but really not nessiscary, David is a quality bench piece who is capable of being an everyday starter if needed and is reasonably cheap.

The offseason/draft

No changes need to be made, What is even better is that Freese is making $2M less next season and with Jaso's contract expiring the team is saving $6M with out even making a change.  Doubt Neal's personel selections all you want but the man is thrifty and knows how to save money.