Sean Rodriguez needs to see more playing time


Sean Rodriguez was picked up this offseason by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade that sent right-handed pitcher Bobby Borden to the Tampa Bay Rays in the hopes that Rodriguez would be a useful utility player off the bench in 2015. After all, Rodriguez had never been a negative WAR player outside of his rookie season with the Los Angeles Angels (he finished that 2008 season with a -0.2 WAR) and had even had seasons of 3.5, 2.4, and 1.0 WARS in his time with the Rays. This year, Rodriguez has shown the ability to be a productive player off the bench for the Pirates but hasn’t been able to see the field as often as he probably would like.

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But that comes with the territory of being a bench player. With the way the Pirates’ offense has struggled this season, however, there’s no reason that Rodriguez couldn’t see more playing time. After all, he’s batting .318 with an OPS of .811. Yes, that’s in limited at-bats (44 to be precise), but look at how Jung Ho Kang began to shine with more at-bats. Unfortunately, there may not be enough spots in the field for Rodriguez to get more regular at-bats. With Jordy Mercer struggling, Kang has become the first man up to take his spot. Josh Harrison was struggling for a while, but he has since rebounded and is now batting .230 on the season. Harrison is also going to be given a longer leash than Mercer because of the contract extension he was inked to earlier this year, for better or for worse.

Rodriguez has become a late-game defensive replacement at first base and a pinch-hitter that has been used sporadically. If Clint Hurdle and company are serious about resting players more to emulate the success of the Golden State Warriors, then Rodriguez should be seeing more time. He could take the spot of Andrew McCutchen every now and then as McCutchen may need rest to heal his lingering knee issue. He could get starts at first as Corey Hart and Pedro Alvarez aren’t playing great offensively so far this season. And he could play for Harrison if JHay begins to slump again. Needless to say, there should be more opportunities created for Rodriguez to receive more at-bats as the season progresses.

He has the hot bat. He’s shown power this season, and has been consistent at the plate (he batted .333 in April and is batting .318 so far in May). He also has yet to make an error in the field; McCutchen and Starling Marte are the only two regulars to not have made an error this season. In fact, Harrison has made seven errors, Alvarez has made five, and Mercer has made two. Rodriguez is not a great batter against lefties, but besides that, he can be a good player to use to give players rest. And he needs to be that player. The Pirates need to create offense wherever and whenever they can. Sean Rodriguez may not be their savior, but he can certainly help their cause.

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