Seven games into the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense has been putrid.
As a whole, the team is hitting .177/.240/.301. They are striking out a quarter of the time while walking just six percent of the time. All hitters on the Pirates have a cumulative fWAR of -0.4. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have a lower mark (-0.6).
If it weren’t for Colin Moran, these numbers would be much worse.
The red-bearded corner infielder has done nothing but crush baseballs so far in this young season. In 26 plate appearances, Moran is hitting .333/.385/.875 with an MLB-leading four home runs. He has not yet made soft contact.
Let me say that again.
He has NOT YET made soft contact.
His hard contact rate sits at an absurd 66.7 percent.
He is pulling the ball at a crazy rate of 66.7 percent as well. His ground balls are slightly down from career norms and his fly balls are slightly up.
Moran’s 57.1 percent home run to fly ball ratio is hilariously higher than the league average of 13.8 percent.
These 26 plate appearances have been fun, yes, but as we know, none of this is sustainable. 26 plate appearances are microscopic in terms of judging the performance of a hitter. That said, we are about 12 percent of the way through the season (if it can even be finished). Judging based on small sample sizes is kind of acceptable these days, is it not?. I mean, what have you done for me lately?
During one of the Summer Camp games against the Cleveland Indians, I was listening on the radio as Greg Brown remarked about how Moran had looked more comfortable than any other Pirate at the plate. At the time, I laughed. “Whoop-de-doo”, I chuckled to myself.
I have always been a Moran doubter. In general, I just don’t think he’s a good player. Defensively, he is a liability at third base due to the lack of range. His arm is great but he’s slower than a snail. Offensively, he has been average over the duration of his career. When adding all of that up, we are left with a below-average player. At the start of this year, I was all for pulling the plug on the Moran-as-an-everyday-player experience.
For the time being though, I am happy to be wrong. It is impossible to tell right now if Moran has solved major league pitching and will continue to rake in such an elite manner. I mean, he most likely won’t. This might just be a hot streak, simple as that.
Moran won’t be making hard contact two-thirds of the time throughout an entire season, even in 60 games. Having said that, if that mark drops to about 40-45 percent consistently and Moran continues to pull the ball and hit dingers, the Pirates will have to take a serious look at where he fits in their future plans.