Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 ZiPS Projections: Second Base
Here at Rum Bunter we have been dissecting the newly released ZiPS projections for the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates. Next up: second base.
During the 2016 season, second base was not a position of strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team’s primary second baseman was Josh Harrison. While Adam Frazier, Alen Hanson, and Sean Rodriguez also started games at second base.
Harrison started 131 games for the Pirates at second base and was abysmal offensively. He finished the season with a .283/.311/.388/.699 slash line, a .301 wOBA, a wRC+ of 87, an OPS+ of 85, and an ISO of 105. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was also 76:18, which is, well, bad.
The Pirates spent much of the offseason trying to trade Josh Harrison. The team wanted to get out from underneath his albatross of a contract. However, no one else wanted it either. Due to this, he will be the starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, at least to begin the 2017 season that is.
Now, here are the ZiPS projections for Pittsburgh Pirates’ second basemen in 2017.
We will start with the incumbent starter at second base, Josh Harrison. Josh Harrison had a fantastic 2014 season (.365 wOBA, 137 wRC+, .175 ISO, 5.0 WAR), however, that season has proven to be a fluke.
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Entering the 2013 season Josh Harrison’s career numbers were very poor. He owned a .283 wOBA, 78 wRC+, 2.6 percetn walk rate, 12.3 percent walk rate, and a .117 ISO. Additionally, his WAR was a combined 1.0 in these three seasons.
In the two seasons since 2014, Harrison has looked like his old self again. In 971 plate appearances the past two seasons Josh Harrison owns a .307 wOBA, a wRC+ of 93, a 3.8 percent walk rate, a 15.1 percent strikeout rate, and a combined WAR of just 2.6.
For 2017, Harrison’s ZiPS projections are not friendly. Once again, he is projected to be a below league average hitter. And this should come as no surprised to anyone.
ZiPS projects Josh Harrison to slash .286/.320/.410/.730 in 2017. Additionally, he is projected to post a 3.9 percent walk rate, 14.3 percent strikeout rate, a .323 wOBA, and an OPS+ of 97. While these numbers are a slight upgrade over 2017, they remain below league average.
While Josh Harrison is a strong defensive second baseman, he posted a 2.9 dWAR and owned a DRS of +8 in 2016, he is such a below average hitter that it negates the value of his defense. In my opinion, Josh Harrison is not a good enough hitter to play everyday at the Major League level. Unfortunately, due to him being grossly overpaid, this is probably not going to change.
If there is one player that might be able to supplant Josh Harrison as the starting second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates it is Adam Frazier. Frazier made his Major League debut during the 2016 season and did nothing but hit. However, he also struggled mightily in the field.
In 160 plate appearances in 2016 Adam Frazier slashed .301/.356/.411/.767 with a .335 wOBA and a wRC+ of 110. Additionally, he posted a strong 7.5 percent walk rate and an ISO of .110. While Frazier does not hit for much power, he does make a lot of solid contact.
In 2016 Frazier owned a 33.1 percent line drive rate. Furthermore, his hard contact rate was 31.4 percent. Both of these rates are well above the Major League Baseball league average. The harder someone hits the ball the more likely they are to get a base hit, and Frazier’s ability to hit line drives and record hard contact is the biggest reason why he hit .301 as a rookie in 2016.
In my opinion, ZiPS projections for Adam Frazier’s 2017 season are way off. Frazier is projected to slash just .266/.319/.346/.665 with a .304 wOBA and an OPS+ of 82. I would be stunned if Adam Frazier’s offensive output was that poor in 2017.
While, yes, he may not be a .300 hitter with a 110 wRC+ again like he was as a rookie, he should still be an above league average hitter once more. Adam Frazier had a strong walk rate in 2016 and hit a lot of line drives, two things he also had in the Minor Leagues. As long as he continues to do those two things well, he will continue to be an above league average hitter.
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ZiPS also has a project for Alen Hanson. Hanson, potentially, could see playing time for the Pittsburgh Pirates at second base in 2017. However, it would most likely require multiple injuries.
ZiPS projects Alen Hanson to own a .244/.288/.395/.683 slash line in 2017. He is also projected to post a 5.6 percent walk rate, 19.3 percent (yikes) strikeout rate, a .305 wOBA, and an OPS+ of 84. Hanson, like Harrison, is a plus defender at second base. However, also like Harrison, he struggles immensely as a hitter.
Previous ZiPS Projections