Pittsburgh Pirates fans are going to have to live with third baseman Colin Moran for a bit longer. They have no other choice.
Let’s get one thing right: Ke’Bryan Hayes is just not ready.
At least not at the plate. Hayes is slashing .252/.338/.385 with a 35 percent strikeout rate in 134 Triple-A at-bats. That k-rate is easily the worst of his career, as he had never been above 20.2 percent in any of his full minor league seasons to date.
So get ready for an even healthier dose of Colin Moran, at least while Jung Ho Kang attempts to relocate that which made him a legitimate power threat without looking lost at the plate.
Warts and all:
To add to his foibles in the field, Moran has been decidedly so-so at the plate in 2019. His xwOBA of .319 is a non-starter, as is his milquetoast 86.9 average exit velocity. Despite some key hits at times, Moran has been exposed as a poor hitter when he starts. As a starter, he has racked up 90 PAs, slashing .238/.311/.325. As a sub, that slash line swells to .250/.357/.750.
It’s very difficult if not impossible to fully quantify the differences between the mental approach to starting versus pinch hitting/coming into a game late. For now, we can simply say that Moran’s wOBA in his first at-bat of a game is a sturdy-enough .361, while wOBA in at-bat number two and onward wilts to .173.
But, again, to get back to the crux of the matter: Moran is the best hot corner option right now for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hayes is the future. Kang is the past that’s still very close in the rearview mirror.
Regardless of how you feel about Hayes, specifically his potential to reach his.....potential, he is as important of a prospect as they come for the Pirates. To bring him up now, simply because of the club getting very little from the position, is pure folly.