Travis Sawchik wonders whether Jung-Ho Kang's recent success suggests he should be playing every day:
Also interesting is that Harrison started at second Sunday while Jung Ho Kang started at third, and Kang hit his first career MLB homer vs. a Trevor Rosenthal breaking ball. Back in its season preview issue, Sports Illustrated’s sabermetic-based "modest proposal" was to move Harrison back to a super utility role, and find out what Kang can do as an everyday player at the hot corner. Is now the time?
I'm not sure there's a great answer to this question yet. Much of the concern about Harrison (not from Sawchik, but from Pirates fans in general) is probably overblown. Harrison has a .211 BABIP right now despite a batted-ball profile that, while not as impressive as last year's, isn't totally ridiculous. He should bounce back, even if he surely won't be as offensively productive as he was last year. I'm not sure why his defense has been so inconsistent, but I'm not sure that will continue, either. And he was a 5-WAR player last year. It's way too early to confine him to some sort of bench role.
That said, Harrison can play all over the field, and if moving him around helps the Pirates find more opportunities for a guy they like, it would be silly for the Bucs not to take advantage of Harrison's versatility, while still playing him almost every day. Clint Hurdle (again via Sawchik) has said there's value in letting a player learn one position and get better at it. I agree in principle, but Harrison was already a plus defender at third last year. There's no law that says he has to only play third, especially when he's struggling defensively and when he's had success on both sides of the ball as a super-utility player. One would think he could maintain his defensive abilities well enough at third base if he were to play, say, 115 games there rather than 150.
Kang, meanwhile, has only 35 plate appearances so far, and he's been one of the Pirates' best hitters. He's been terrific, in fact. (Remember the hand-wringing about Kang in Spring Training? Can you think of anything sillier?)
Maybe Kang's early success doesn't mean much -- the sample size is so small that you can really see anything you want in it. But with Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Andrew McCutchen (who can take an occasional day off when Harrison plays in an outfield corner) all struggling, it shouldn't be hard to find extra playing time to allow Kang to get into a rhythm. Someone on Twitter pointed out yesterday that Kang has played better so far this year when he starts, so I looked it up -- he's 9-for-25 with all three of his extra-base hits when he's in the lineup, and 0-for-7 when he comes in off the bench. So why not find a little more playing time for Kang, at least until the Pirates' offense returns to normal? It needn't mean he supplants Harrison or anyone else.