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.

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