Welcome to Five Fast Facts, a semi-weekly series where we throw five fast analytical facts about a Pittsburgh Pirates player at you, with some quick commentary. First up is 3B Colin Moran.
Moran has shown an ability to put together a quality at-bat at any time. But is he perhaps a bit too patient?
As per Statcast, Moran has an edge percentage (defined as pitches on the very edge of the strike zone (yet still in the zone)) of 40.7 percent — two full percentage points higher than the league rate. He has a swing rate on those pitches of just 48.6 percent. That figure may not seem significant either way, but in Moran’s case it gains importance from the fact that 27.3 of the pitches he takes on the edges are called as strikes.
Overall, Moran has fantastic walk and strikeout rates of 10.7 and 16.7 percent, respectively. But there is an argument to be made that Moran can be a bit more aggressive and still maintain an overall patient approach.
Colin Moran has a pretty even batted ball profile:
#Pirates 3B Colin Moran has a pretty even batted ball profile in terms of spread:— Jason Rollison (@jrollisonpgh) June 21, 2018
Going into the season, many felt that Moran’s pull power would play well in PNC Park, but he has shown an ability to spray it pretty evenly across the field. If he can keep doing so as he continues to learn more about hitting at the major league level (more on that in a second), he can ward off any shifting that opposing clubs may want to implement.
Still a youngin
In as much as it is hard to call someone with a beard like Moran’s a “youngin,” the simple fact is that Moran is still in the young throes of his career. As of this writing, Moran has seen exactly 1,000 pitches in the major leagues.
857 of them have come during the current season.
With a mature approach, it is hard to remember that Moran is still going through the same learning curve as countless hitters before him have. With this even of a batted ball profile, Moran is more or less shift-proof save for the most arduous shift enthusiasts.
A bad fortnight worth of BABIP
Over the past two weeks, Moran has put up a wRC+ of 128, despite a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of just .280.
He has made his fair share of hard contact — 37.1 percent — over the past 14 days but has also avoided soft contact to the tune of just 18.5 percent.
Sometimes, it’s not about posting gaudy hard hit numbers as it is avoiding the soft serve. I’s almost as if...Moran is just a capable, professional hitter. Hmm.
Still not that great versus lefties
Pittsburgh Pirates fans will automatically gripe every time they see Moran sit against a left-handed pitcher, but that might be a bit unfounded.
For 2018, Moran is slashing .208/.367/.250 in 30 plate appearances against left hander, with a lone extra base hit.
The eyes are drawn to a very good OBP against southpaws, and rightfully so. However, that does not tell me much either than Moran is very good at distinguishing pitches; It’s something we already knew.
For the run production role that Moran is to serve in this lineup, he will need to drive the ball with more consistency against LHPs.
The good news for those that think Moran should get more opportunities is that, well, he should. In 2017 with Houston’s Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, Moran took 87 trips to the plate against southpaws, and slashed .287/.323/.448 with four home runs.
He’s not going to improve until he puts in the reps. At this point it is unclear what Moran will have to do to gain Clint Hurdle’s trust against lefties, as the manager has been loathe to put him in against them.