A bit past the halfway point of the season and as we rapidly approach the trade deadline, here’s how the Pirates’ position players have performed so far this season according to my Oliver metrics.
For those not familiar with my work, the fielding and base running numbers are based on my proprietary metrics, which although are not currently available to the public are being purchased by a handful of MLB teams. The batting runs are derived from comparing the wOBA of their actual raw batting stats to a weighted mean of replacement level offense at each position (including PH) the player appeared at.
These are the current season and not projections, but I still see patterns.
Nine hitters with a wOBA over .320 is great, but then looking at the defense it’s obvious that the infield is a hot smoking mess. Mercer and Moran are hitting a bit above average for their positions but Bell and Harrison aren’t. No one can adequately field their position.
Josh Bell and Colin Moran are young and still have hopes for improvements or bounce backs on offense. I’ll cut them some slack, but would still be open to replacements in the off-season.
With both being on the wrong side of 30, Josh Harrison is hacking away at the worst offensive clip of his career with sub-par defense, and while Jordy Mercer continues to hit the same as always his range has fallen off a cliff. Mercer is in the last year of his contract. Harrison has a team option for next year. I’d be actively shopping both right now for any warm bodies.
Sean Rodriguez should never see another game in a Pirates’ uniform. Kang Jung-ho, if his wrist ever heals, will be available to play third or short with an impact bat. Kevin Newman can likely reproduce Mercer’s offense but bring very good defense.
The outfield has been solid but it’s also deep. Austin Meadows faded after his first few weeks but long term shouldn’t be expected to be any worse than Corey Dickerson. Jordan Luplow and Jason Martin are next in line and both look able to be starting major league outfielders. So trade Dickerson now. He has a promise of getting something more valuable than either Mercer or Harrison.
Two weeks out from the trade deadline, with Francisco Cervelli succumbing to effects of concussions, Dickerson is the most productive position player who can be offered. Mercer and Harrison shouldn’t be expected to net much, but it can also be filed under ‘addition by subtraction’ as their in-house replacements are at least equal in talent. Maybe the Pirates could snag another Oneil Cruz in the process.
Although not presented here, Felipe
Rivero Vazquez must be considered as trade bait. He’s back to being great, but because of that is most likely to return someone of real value.
I’m not looking to toss away prospects to bring in a rental to try to get a Wild Card spot. The Pirates could be a better team immediately by jettisoning some dead weight while perhaps bringing in a couple prospects for the near future.
That should at least keep them competitive over the final two months of the season, while preparing for 2019 and beyond.