The Pittsburgh Pirates Need To End The Erik Gonzalez Experiment

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Infielder Erik Gonzalez has become the latest below average utility man that Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has fallen in love with

During the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired utility infielder Erik Gonzalez from the Cleveland Indians. When he was acquired general manager Neal Huntington said that Gonzalez would have an opportunity to ear the team’s starting shortstop role, which is exactly what would happen.

During spring training, Gonzalez was named the team’s starting shortstop. This came after Huntington said his scouts were “pounding the table” for the Pirates to acquire Gonzalez in the offseason. Well, these scouts may want to find a new line of work.

In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one Gonzalez was been awful this season. Due to a broken collarbone costing him over three months of the season he has just 77 plate appearances and he is slashing .194/.270/.254 in these 77 PAs. His wRC+ is a woeful 30 and he is striking out in 30% of his at bats.

While, yes, this is a small sample size, it continues his career norms of being a poor hitter. In 185 career games Gonzalez now owns a .249/.287/.362 slash line with a 67 wRC+ and a 27.8% strikeout rate. Gonzalez has never been a good hitter in the minor leagues either, owning a lifetime 100 wRC+ in the minor leagues. This includes a .192/.222/.295 slash line and a 24 wRC+ in 20 games with Triple-A Indianapolis during a rehab assignment this season.

Gonzalez was on the injured list due to breaking his collarbone on a collision with Starling Marte in center field in late April. This collision came when Gonzalez made one of his plethora of defensive miscues this season.

While he was on the IL Kevin Newman emerged as the team’s starting shortstop. Cole Tucker also flashed promising signs during his time with the Pirates. These two players should be manning the middle infield for the Pirates right now, not Gonzalez. As for third base, where Gonzalez has also made starts, if Colin Moran is not on the field then it needs to be Jose Osuna. Again, not Gonzalez.

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Since returning from the injured list  IL Gonzalez has 18 plate appearances. This is 18 plate appearances too many. With the team sitting 20 games under .500 the Pirates need to be focusing on players who could be part of the equation in 2020 and beyond.

Gonzalez has proven that he is not part of the equation in 2020 and beyond. And, if he is part of the equation, then that likely means that Pirates are a bad team.