The Pittsburgh Pirates Should Try Will Craig At Third Base
Pittsburgh Pirates third basemen have been the worst in the National League this season. Due to this, the team should move one of their top hitting prospects back to the hot corner.
Third base has been, to put it lightly, underwhelming for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. Entering play on Friday, Pirate third basemen were among the least productive in the entire National League.
Lack of production from the hot corner for the Pirates is a big reason the team has struggled offensively this season. Pirate third basemen rank 12th in the NL in home runs hit (7), and have the highest strikeout rate (27.1%). This group ranks dead last in the league in on-base percentage (.257), slugging percentage (.332), wRC+ (58), and fWAR (-0.6).
So, to say the team needs help at third base is putting it lightly.
The two primary third basemen this season have been Colin Moran and Jung Ho Kang. Neither of whom have been anywhere near productive hitters for the Pirates. Moran entered play on Friday with a .239/.317/.380 slash line and a wRC+ of 88. Prior to going on the IL on Monday, Kang was slashing just .133/.204/.300 with a wRC+ of 34 and a 31.6% strikeout rate.
Additionally, both players have been below league average defensively.
The hot hitting Kevin Newman could be an intriguing option for third base, but due lack of power his potential seems limited. Jake Elmore has started at third base the last two days, but, to be honest, he has no business being on a MLB roster. This is what takes us to prospect Will Craig.
Craig, a former first round pick, enterd action on Friday with a .248/.329/.496 slash line and a .248 ISO at Triple-A. On Firday night, he clubbed his 11th home run of the season. This power surge from Craig continues the trend that started in 2018 when he slugged .448, owned a .200 ISO, and hit 20 home runs, with 53 extra base hits, for Double-A Altoona.
Currently, Craig is playing first base at Indianapolis. The same position he manned for the Curve in 2018. However, he has played third base in the past. With the MLB club’s struggles at the hot corner, it is time to try Craig there once again.
In 2016 Craig logged 403 innings at third base at the Low-A level. While it has been three years since he played there last, transitioning back to third base is something Craig should be able to do. With the Pirate offense desperate for help and their third base production being, literally, the worst in the NL giving Craig a try at the position can not hurt.
While Craig may never hit for a high average, the power is clearly there. He also has good on-base skills, owning a 11.6% walk rate in his minor league career. Craig possesses the tools to be a dangerous MLB hitter, and it’s time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to give it a try at third base.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, what about Ke’Bryan Hayes? Hayes is the team’s top hitting prospects and the starting third baseman for Triple-A Indy after all. However, Hayes is not as progressed as a hitter as Craig is.
While Craig is a 24-year-old that played college ball, Hayes just turned 22 in January. Additionally, Hayes entered Friday night’s Indianapolis game slashing .254/.346/.384 with a .130 ISO and a wRC+ of 92. And this was before he went hitless in Indy’s game last night.