Should Adam Frazier Be Playing Over Josh Harrison?


Should the Pittsburgh Pirates be exploring a change at second base?

On Sunday afternoon, Adam Frazier hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning that powered the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Frazier’s hit came while playing left field after being double switched into the game a few innings earlier. This hit also continued the hot streak Frazier has been on since being recalled to the Major Leagues on July 25th.

The Pirates need an offensive boost. The team has scored just 18 runs in their last eight games, including a pair of 1-0 losses. Despite allowing just 19 runs the past eight games the Bucs are just 3-5 in these games and lack of offense is the reason why.

None of the offensive struggles can be placed at the feet of Frazier, however. Since returning to the Majors Frazier owns a .390/.406/.661/1.067 slash line and a 20.3% extra base hit rate. While it is impossible for Frazier to remain this hot, he needs to be in the lineup until he cools down.

Even when Frazier cools down, he has still been better than Harrison this season. Frazier owns a .284/.352/.447/.799 slash line, .346 wOBA, and a 117 wRC+ this season, while Harrison is slashing just .257/.298/.365/.663 with a .288 wOBA and a wRC+ of 79.

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During their MLB careers a big difference between Frazier and Harrison has been their defense. Harrison has been a plus defender at second base, while Frazier’s defense has been borderline unplayable bad.

Well, this season, the roles have been reversed. Harrison has been responsible for -4 defensive runs saved (DRS) this season and he owns a -3.6 UZR/150. As for Frazier, his DRS is +3 and his  UZR/150 is a positive 6.2.

Minus 2012 when he was a part-time player this has been the worst offensive season of Harrison’s career. Defensively, it has been the absolute worst.

Furthermore, odds are, Harrison will not be a Pirate in 2019. The Pirates own a $10.5 million option for Harrison in 2019. Harrison’s performance does not warrant being paid anywhere near this much money in 2019. Combine this with how close Harrison came to being traded this past offseason and it is hard to envision Harrison as a Pirate in 2019.

Frazier, however, will be on the Pirates in 2019. If his defensive improvements at second base are not a fluke then he could be a big part of the Pirate lineup next season. And with the 2019 Pirates shaping up to be a team that will be legitimate postseason contenders, the more they can find out about who can help and how in 2019 during the final six weeks of this season the better.

Right now, Frazier represents both an offensive and a defensive upgrade at second base over Harrison. So, should he be taking at bats away from Harrison at second base? Absolutely. Until he cools down Frazier needs to be in the lineup, and Harrison’s play this season has not garnered the right to be guaranteed a starting role.