With the removal of the National League designated hitter in 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a decision to make.
Currently, the team’s three best hitters (arguably) are Ke’Bryan Hayes, Josh Bell, and Colin Moran. Hayes will not be giving up the everyday third base job anytime soon. Bell has been the everyday first baseman for four seasons now (first base/DH in 2020). Although he had a miserable season last year (.226/.305/.364), the job will still be his to lose.
What should the Pirates do with Moran then? His 114 wRC+ last season was the second-highest on the team (minimum 50 plate appearances). He also led the team in home runs with 10. With a lineup so starved for power, getting Moran at-bats is crucial. But how?
Second base Moran
This sounds crazy, I’ll admit that. Moran is as slow as they come (his sprint speed of 24.3 ft/sec is among the lowest in the sport). Because of that, he lacks any type of range whatsoever. That said, the arm is strong and his hands are steady. In 2019, Moran played 61 innings at second. Weirdly enough, he wasn’t bad and even had one defensive run saved. In today’s game, shifts are the way of life. Defensive positioning can be an antidote for a player that lacks range.
The Milwaukee Brewers have experimented with moving 1B/3B types such as Mike Moustakas and Travis Shaw to second base. It worked out. In my opinion, the production from Moran’s bat will outweigh the negatives he provides in the field.
What would this mean for current everyday second baseman Adam Frazier? As of right now, the Pirates have just two major league outfielders on their roster with any type of experience in Bryan Reynolds and Gregory Polanco. There is an obvious spot for Frazier in left field.
With this field configuration, the batting order would look something like this:
The Pirates need to worry about scoring runs, first and foremost. The lineup posted above gives them the best opportunity to maximize offense.
And hey, if this turned out to be a disaster, would anyone really notice anyway?