WASHINGTON, D.C. — Since he was recalled from the minors on April 16, Pirates infielder Max Moroff hasn’t exactly had to use maximum effort.
He’s played in nine games over 15 days, and has just 18 at-bats. But he’s found a way to make the most out of his minimal opportunities.
Moroff is hitting .278/.316/.500, good for an .816 OPS and 124 wRC+, if you’re more sabremetrically inclined. So far, the good results have come from some sheltered at-bats and Moroff just plain taking advantage of the opportunities that have been presented.
“I’m just putting together good at-bats right now,” Moroff said. “That’s what I’m up here to do: have good at-bats, get on base and let guys drive me in.”
Pinch-hitting is a tough job for any player, particularly a young one, but Moroff has actually been better (.900 OPS) in games that he comes off the bench than when he’s in the starting lineup (.708 OPS).
“We need to play guys if we expect them to contribute off the bench,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He needs to get three or four at-bats in a game every now and then.”
“It’s different, but that’s my role,” Moroff said, while adding that he won’t try to do anything differently while batting leadoff.
His other role is an above-average defender, and that went as much into Hurdle’s decision to give Moroff a start on Wednesday, when he certainly won’t get any sheltered at-bats against Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. But Pirates starter Ivan Nova has been a ground-ball machine and Hurdle wanted Moroff’s quick glove in play.
“We try to put guys out there, what do you call it in football, the all-hands team?” Hurdle said. “Guys that are peak defenders. … Moroff is very, very solid at second.”
AROUND THE HORN
Triple-barrel MLB coverage on the site today: Josh Harrison is hard at work rehabbing from his broken hand. That and more in my injury updates from D.C.
Earlier, my column focused on the moves the Pirates didn’t make this offseason and how they look a month later.
Matt Gajtka led off with a feature on the hitting and baserunning value provided by the Pirates’ pitching staff.
Gm 31: ☠ (17-13) vs. 🇺🇸 (14-16)
2B Mor 📴
C 🇻🇪 🇮🇹
P vs. 🇩🇴 Ivan Nova (3.32 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (3.63)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) May 2, 2018
Letting it ride.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 2, 2018
Hot, damn. It’s nearly 90 degrees in the nation’s capital, with low humidity and a gentle breeze. Nationals Park is pretty insulated from the wind, but what is blowing will travel from left to right across the outfield. No chance of rain in the weather.com forecast. Looks like a gorgeous night.