With Josh Harrison Out, Max Moroff Should Start at Second Base for the Pirates
With Josh Harrison out, Max Moroff is the answer at second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates
For approximately six weeks the Pittsburgh Pirates will be without starting second baseman Josh Harrison. So, who should manager Clint Hurdle and the Pirates turn to?
In three games since Harrison was placed on the disabled list the Pirates have used three different players at second base. Adam Frazier started at second base on Monday, Sean Rodriguez on Tuesday, and Max Moroff on Wednesday.
Moving forward, it would be in the team’s best interest to settle on one player at second base until Harrison returns. And the player that they need to settle on is Max Moroff.
Odds are, with Harrison out Pirate fans will see a lot of Adam Frazier at second base. The Pirates are very high on Frazier, and Clint Hurdle likes him a lot as a leadoff hitter. However, playing Frazier every day at second base would be a mistake.
Defensively, Moroff is the far superior player to Frazier. While Moroff has never committed an error in 156 Major League innings at second base, Frazier owns an abysmal .946 fielding percentage in 427 2/3 career innings at the position. Furthermore, while Moroff has a +4 career defensive runs saved (DRS) at second base, Frazier’s DRS at second base is zero. Moroff also holds a big edge in UZR/150 as his is 26.3 to Frazier’s -17.8, this indicates that Moroff has much more range at second base than Frazier does.
When it comes to offense, the gap between Frazier is Moroff is lesser than the gap between the two defensively. In their Major League careers, both have been below average hitters. Frazier owns a .322 wOBA and a 98 wRC+, while Moroff’s are .275 and 66. While Frazier does a good job of getting on base, lifetime .343 on-base percentage, Moroff owns a better career walk rate (11.2 percent v. 7.7 percent for Frazier).
Moroff also continues to improve as a hitter. Last season, Moroff was promoted to the Major Leagues for good on July 16th. From the time of this promotion through the end of the season Moroff owned a 13.1 percent walk rate, .373 on-base percentage, a .364 wOBA, 125 wRC+, and he slugged .472. This was more reflective of the hitter Moroff was at Triple-A last season when he slugged .440 with a .406 on-base percentage, with a .385 wOBA and a 143 wRC+.
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While Frazier may be a better pure hitter than Moroff, due to their differences in walk rate and power Moroff was the better all-around hitter in the Minor Leagues. In the final three months of 2017, Moroff was this hitter in the Major Leagues. This combined with Moroff being the far superior defensive player is why he should be the Pirates’ starting second baseman while Josh Harrison is out.