Say what you will about Matt Hague’s future potential. Whether you think he’s a 4-A player, a strong bench option, a future average starter, or more, no one can deny that he’s having a great spring. Hague added to his impressive stat line today with his fifth homer of the Grapefruit League. He now has a .383/.383/.723 line in 47 at-bats this spring.
Side note: I’m surprised that no one has brought up that Hague hasn’t drawn a walk this spring. Or maybe I just missed it. But I definitely noticed it with Starling Marte and Josh Harrison.
I‘ve mentioned in the past why you can’t take a strong Spring Training performance seriously. It’s impressive what Hague has done this spring, but in the long run it means very little. Plenty of players have failed followed up a strong Spring Training with strong numbers in the majors. Last year we saw Lyle Overbay put up a season that was just as good as Hague’s. Yet Overbay was atrocious during the regular season.
Even as Hague continues to hit, my opinion stays the same. I don’t think that Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee are a long term answer for the Pirates. However, I also don’t think Hague is a long term answer, and I think in the short-term that the platoon gives the Pirates a better chance at success. The best role for Hague to start the year is getting everyday playing time in Triple-A, and arriving in the majors to take over and start when a spot opens up.
At the same time, you can’t ignore his spring. I wouldn’t start Hague because of his Spring Training, but I might shorten the leash on guys like Jones, McGehee, or even Alex Presley and Jose Tabata. If those guys start the season struggling, then Hague’s spring would get him up sooner in my book. If Jones and McGehee are struggling after a month, and Hague continues to hit, then it wouldn’t make sense to keep him down. It didn’t make much sense when the Pirates took that approach last year and stuck with Overbay.
So when should Hague get a shot? I think a lot of that should depend on the performance of other players, specifically those who can provide a bigger impact. But if one of those players struggles, or goes down with an injury, then it’s time to Free Matt Hague. If there’s one thing his Spring Training should have done, it’s making him the go-to guy should a starting position open up in Pittsburgh.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates tied the Rays 3-3 thanks to Matt Hague’s two-run homer. Game story here.
**Ryota Igarashi was traded to the Blue Jays today for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
**Prospect Notebook: Hunter Strickland had an efficient outing, and Nick Kingham hit 95 MPH again.
**Pirates Notebook: Hague continues his strong case to break camp with the Pirates.
**I’ll be on 93.7 The FAN at 11:40 AM with Bob Pompeani, discussing Pedro Alvarez.