Sep 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) is congratulated by team mates after hitting an inside the park home run during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Where Neil Walker Fits In the Lineup


Second baseman Neil Walker will join the Pirates Tuesday for game two of three in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Walker will most likely be featured in the Pirates lineup at designated hitter while they finish their series in Tampa.

Where should Hurdle place Walker in the lineup? He has batted second for much of the season and has performed admirably thus far – batting .280 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.

It is hard to see a situation in which the Pirates would remove a surging Starling Marte from his spot in the lineup to make room for Walker. Presuming everything goes as planned the top three of Gregory Polanco, Marte and Andrew McCutchen is like set in stone for the next few years.

In the nine games that Starling Marte has batted in the second spot in the lineup Marte is 13-41 batting .317. As long as Marte swings a hot bat there is no reason to keep his speed at the bottom of the lineup.

The platoon of Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez at cleanup is not providing anything too extraordinary. Their production level is worthy of having them bat sixth or seventh in the order.

Neil Walker who is batting an exception .333 with runners in scoring position deserves to be the cleanup hitter. He is second on the team in home runs and could really cause some damage batting behind the Pirates trio of skilled outfielders.

Here is the toughest thing for Clint Hurdle, once Walker is healthy what do you do with Josh Harrison. The do-it-all guy is batting .304 with five home runs and 22 RBIs and contrary to what I wrote in May, Harrison is showing no signs of slowing down.

Manager Clint Hurdle told reporters prior to the game today that keeping Josh Harrison in the lineup is a priority. So where does Harrison play in the field? Do Pedro Alvarez’s pats decrease to make room for Harrison?

For whatever reason, no one seems to want to give Harrison a chance at shortstop and with Mercer getting hot, the arguments to remove him from the lineup are getting more and more difficult to defend.

Hurdle should use Harrison as a fill-in all over the field. He can bat from any spot in the order and can be plugged in at the player that he replaces spot as to not alter the lineup each day. Harrison should be allotted five games per week at a minimum. He can play first base for a game or two, third base for a game or two, and give one of the outfielders a day off for the other two.

Harrison can play anywhere on the field and there is no reason to simply remove Alvarez from the lineup. If tonight’s home run was not a reminder enough, Alvarez’s pure power is threating enough to stir up opposing pitchers. If he can get hot, he can carry the offense.

The Pirates lineup should look something like this:

Gregory Polanco/Josh Harrison RF

Starling

Marte/Harrison LF

Andrew McCutchen CF

Neil Walker/Harrison 2B

Russell Martin C

Pedro Alvarez/Harrison 3B

Ike Davis/Gaby Sanchez/Harrison 1B

Jordy Mercer/Harrison SS

Pitchers spot

The above lineup is a potent one, one that could cause a lot of damage as the Pirates attempt to ascend the National League Central standings. The top five alone are arguably one of the best in the division with the Harrison/Alavarez platoon at six having the potential to be especially lethal.

It’s amazing to think where this team would be in the standings if they had the same production from their pitching staff as they did last season.

At the end of May I posted a poll asking how you thought that the Pirates season would end. 59 percent said that they would finish .500 or better. Of that 59 percent, 25 percent predicted that the Pirates would make the playoffs. Those were relatively high percentages considering that the Pirates were 23-29 at the time and were not looking too good.

I ask again:

How will the Pirates season End?

View Results

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Tags: Featured Gregory Polanco Josh Harrison Neil Walker Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates Popular

  • Zoltan McBurgher

    They will make the playoffs and be 87-75.

  • Frank Micko

    Harrison can throw from 3rd. Pedro currently can’t. You’d like both to play and minimize errors so stop crying “it’s midseason” and put Pedro at 1st. He has outstanding reflexes and picking skills. He has the feet to beat the runner to the bag in a pinch. Will he make some mistakes? Probably, but there’s no way it would be at the same frequency he currently makes them from the hot corner.

    The other reasons for Pedro at 1st are Mercer and Davis. Mercer has more total bases and home runs than Ike. He has the 3rd most doubles on the team. Jordy also has a top ten DWAR among MLB shortstops. Davis only consistently succeeds on this team as a slap hitter. His bat is in no way essential to this team.

    The notion that we have to settle for spot starting Josh Harrison over good players instead of sitting Ike for our best power bat is absurd. Let’s put the cliches away and actually think plus-minuses for once.

  • Guest

    Honestly, this is kind of a mess and they say it’s a good mess to have, however, in certain cases, it’s not the best mess to have. At this point, it’s hard to justify sitting Harrison or any length of time because he has been good defensively and he’s been solid offensively. There have been times when certain guys are not this way. The only players the Pirates should not bench on any given day, except for a day of rest is Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Neil Walker and Russell Martin. Everyone else is fair game. Pedro can sit against every lefty we face and Harrison can play there. Mercer has been hitting better and his defense is superior to Harrison but you can play them every other day or something. I like the idea of moving Pedro to 1st, however what do you do with Ike Davis then? If either Davis or Pedro were a righty, I’d instantly set up that platoon and ship Gaby Sanchez off to Texas. Marte has been much better recently and you love that top 3 of the lineup with Polanco, Marte and McCutchen so that shouldn’t be touched on most occasions. I 100% agree that Neil Walker should be the cleanup hitter because he hits well with RISP plus he can hit doubles and home runs and a switch hitter. Harrison could probably get 4 starts a week of 6 games with swapping out with Pedro, Mercer and even Marte.

  • SHAKY7

    EITHER RPLACE AS A STARTER AT 1ST OR 3RD OR SHORTSOP FOR HARRISON TO START EV GAME OCASIANALY A DAY OFF AS USUAL PLAYER IF HE GETS COLD THEN PUT HIM BACK ON BENCH PLAYER PEDRO TO INCONCIDANT WHO CARES ABOUT HIS POWER HE WILL B LUCKY TO HIT 20 OR 25 N STRIKE OUT A COUPLE THOUSAND TIMES LOL AS FAR AS 1ST SANCHEZ SHOULD B STARTER BETTER POWER N HITTER N EVEN ON DEF SAME AS SS POS COLD ALL YR HOT 1 MONTH HARRISON HOT ALL YR QUIT THINKIN MONEY U PAYED AND GETTING EMBARRESED PIRATES N WIN GAMES WITH PLAYERS WHO R PLAYIN GREAT NOT MAKING ALOT OF MONEY TY SHAKY7 I THINK PIRATES CAN MAKE RUN IF THEY PLAY PLAYERS THAT R PLAYIN GOOD BALL AND NOT GOOD MONEY SWALLOW PRIDE N PLAY WHOS HOT WITH PITCHERS LOCK I FORGET WHO PITCHED TONIGHTS GAME S PITCHER ON 26TH JUNE FIND AWAY TO KEEP BOTH AGAIN THINK GOOD SUCCESS NOT MONEY

  • SHAKY7

    I ALSO THINK THIS IS A GOOD YR TO TRADE BIG WE GOT PEOPLE THAT BAD TEAMS WOULD KILL FOR WE DONT NEED ANY MORE LIKE SNYDER GRILLIE THE CLOSER WE HAVE NOW THATS COVERING FOR GRILLIE SORRY BAD WITH MEMORY ON NAMES U GOT A GREAT 8 INNER IN WATSUN PUT HIM IN CLOSER BETTER PITCHER ANYWAY ALSO KEEP THOSE PITCHERS LOCK N LAST NIGHT PITCHERS KEEP THEM N TRADE GRILLIE N R CLOSER NOW HOW BAMUS HAS STAYED ON THIS TEAM IS JUST STUPID SORRY HE CANT HIT TO SAVE HIS LIFE SHOULD OF GOT RID OF HIM YRS AGO OR NEVER GOT HIM PERIOD GIVE HIM AWAY PAY TO GIVE HIM AWAY IF DL IS GOING TO HAPPIN MAYB KEEP ALVEREZ IF NOT TRADE U SPENT TO MUCH ALLREADY I DONT CARE IF HE HITS 50 HRS HE WILL STRIKE OUT 10 TIMES MORE Y NOT PUT HARRISON MY LAST WORDS R HARRISON SHOULD B A EV DAY PLAYER IF U DONT C THIS HE DOES IT ALL LOOK AT WHAT TALLENT U HAVE IN 3 POS IF U CANT PUT HIM IN 1 OF 3 OR ROTATE HIM EV DAY AT 1 OF THEM NOT SMART

  • SHAKY7

    BARAMAS GET RID OF HIM PERIOD NEVER SHOULD OF GOT HIM N TO KEEP HIM THIS LONG AND TO PLAY HIM IS EMBARASING TO PIRATES PIRATE FANS AND ME PERSONALLY I DONT CARE HOW MUCH MONEY U R PAYING PLAYERS IF THERE NOT PLAYING SIT THEM TRADE THEM THERE R WORSE TEAMS WORSE OFF THEN SOME OF THE GUYS WE GOT WE CAN LET GO WINS 1ST MONEY PLAYERS LAST DO U WANT TO WIN SERIES AGAINN SOME DECADE AGAIN START THINKING THIS WAY INSTEAD OF THINKING WITH UR WALLET N PRIDE