Why Jose Osuna Should Start At Third Base Over Colin Moran

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Although Colin Moran is currently the front-runner for the hot corner, Jose Osuna truly deserves the nod over him. Who should the Pittsburgh Pirates go with?

As we enter our second week of Spring Training, the guy who keeps the seat warm for prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes could still be up for grabs for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right now, Colin Moran is penciled in as the Opening Day Starter, but he hasn’t done anything to really deserve that position. If anything, Jose Osuna deserves the hot corner until Hayes reaches the majors.

Moran has easily been one of, if not the worst third baseman in baseball in the past 2 seasons. His .6 fWAR between ‘18-’19 ranks 27th of 28th among third basemen with at least 800 plate appearances. Although his 98 wRC+ is still above 7 other names, many of them had much better seasons than Moran in the past 2 years. This is the case for Travis Shaw (119 wRC+ in ‘18, 47 wRC+ in ‘19), Kyle Seager (83 wRC+ in ‘18, 110 wRC+ in ‘19), and Yolmer Sanchez (played most of his innings at second base in 2019). Moran posted a 102 wRC+ in ‘18, and 94 wRC+ in ‘19. So unlike Shaw and Seager, who were inconsistent but good, Moran was consistent, but bad.

In terms of fielding, there is no argument that Moran is the worst. Between 2018 and 2019, no other third baseman has had less DRS (-32), UZR (-15.4), range runs above average (-11.7), or UZR/150 (-12.2). Last year, he somehow managed -21 DRS, and a -8.8 UZR. In terms of outs above average, he was in the bottom 6th percentile.

So what would Jose Osuna bring to the table starting for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Well for one, he hasn’t really been given a good shot at the majors. He has yet to have a season where he has 300 plate appearances. The closest he came was last season when he had 285.

But Osuna has done very well at the highest level of the minors. At Indianapolis, Osuna has a career .300/.359/.483 line in 700 plate appearances. He rarely strikes out too, having a K rate of just 16.9%. Osuna showed this lack-of-swing-and-miss in the majors last season, having a similar K% (16.8%). He has also crushed 18 home runs, and has hit 57 doubles while at Indy.

Plus, Osuna is having another great Spring Training. Through 11 plate appearances, Osuna has already had 4 hits including a double, and two walks, as opposed to Moran’s 2 hits through 12 plate appearances. Another thing of note is that despite both Osuna and Moran having good splits vs RHP last season, Osuna easily outclassed Moran. Osuna finished up 2019 with a .849 OPS and 116 wRC+ vs RHP, while Moran sat at a .764 OPS and 97 wRC+.

The Pittsburgh Pirates would also be better served to use Moran as a pinch hitter. In his career when he has come into the game as a substitute, Moran has hit .324/.415/.647. Moran’s clutchness is also a nice asset to have off the bench. With RISP, he has a career .312/.375/.492 line, including 25 extra base hits. With two outs, Moran bats .303/.376/.457. However with two outs and RISP, Moran is a machine, having a .330/.403/.513 line.

Next. A look at Rising Pitching Prospect Cody Bolton. dark

Jose Osuna hasn’t really been given a shot as a regular for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s been blocked at first base by Josh Bell, and he wouldn’t play well in the outfield. However he should be the third baseman to start off 2020. Moran hasn’t really done anything to earn everyday at bats. Although Osuna hasn’t done much in the majors yet, the Pittsburgh Pirates can currently take the risk of starting Osuna, just to see what they have in him, over Moran, who’s been given over 800 plate appearances in the past 2 seasons to be at best league average.

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