Josh Harrison isn’t a free agent at the end of the year, but he is a guy with an expensive club option and production that doesn’t necessarily warrant picking that option up right now. As a result, the second base position in Pittsburgh gets discussed in the same way as the shortstop position — where Jordy Mercer is a free agent at the end of the year — with the focus of both positions being on the future.
I’ve mostly focused on Kevin Kramer as the future at second base. I think that of all the internal options, he’s got the highest upside, and he looks like a guy who could come up this year.
One guy who I don’t mention is Adam Frazier. And every time I discuss second base, I get a question about Frazier.
The reason I don’t think Frazier is an option for second base is because historically his defense hasn’t been good enough for the position. His offense has also been inconsistent, lacking consistency and sitting in the mid-.700 OPS range for his first two seasons. But neither of those things are true this year, which is probably why I get that question each time I discuss second base.
Frazier is currently hitting for an .810 OPS. He’s got a .348 wOBA and a 119 wRC+. He’s actually hitting for some power, with a .177 ISO, and not taking anything away from his walks (up from 7.9% to 8.5%) or his strikeouts (career 13.8% to 14.6% this year). On defense, he has only played 243 innings, but has a 1.4 UZR/150, and a +2 in both Plus/Minus and Defensive Runs Saved. That’s up from a career -12.5 UZR/150 and a combined +1 PM and zero DRS in the last two years.
By comparison, Josh Harrison’s defense — which used to be one of his biggest strengths — is at a -3.9 UZR/150, along with a -5 PM and -3 DRS. A key disclaimer with defensive stats is that one year is way too small a sample size to make an evaluation. You need about two or three years of data to say whether a player is good or bad defensively. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be at least concern that Harrison is on the decline. It does mean that Frazier’s 243 innings shouldn’t wipe out his 405 innings from the previous years, and really, the entire combination isn’t enough to say anything conclusive.
The offensive stats should be taken with the same disclaimer about sample size. Frazier only has half a season of plate appearances with 246. That ranks 11th on the team, putting him well outside the range of the starters. However, he ranks fourth on the team in wOBA, wRC+, and ISO, which is eye-opening considering the struggles from the team offensively this year.
Do I think that Frazier’s defense can continue to generate positive value at second base? At best, I would be very skeptical. I would pick Kramer over him defensively as far as future upside.
Do I think he can continue this offense? I’m less skeptical about that, since offense was his strong point coming up, although I am skeptical that the power will continue, as that hasn’t been a key part of his game.
This isn’t a comparison between Kramer and Frazier. I would still go with Kramer as the second baseman of the future. But I think there is a valid question here, wondering if Adam Frazier should be the second baseman right now and until Kramer is ready. I don’t know if Frazier is going to repeat this performance on both sides of the ball. But Kramer isn’t up yet, and would need some adjustment when he is up. So it wouldn’t hurt to go with Frazier for now and see if this is real, as this might be the only chance the Pirates have to give him if Kramer does eventually work out.
I’m skeptical Frazier can continue hitting for the power and playing the defense he’s playing right now in a small sample size. But I do think that small sample warrants a bigger sample to prove whether or not he can repeat these numbers.
The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by 13 games with 31 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by 8.5 games.
Indianapolis is in first place and has a one game lead, with eight games left in their schedule. They do not own the tiebreaker.
Altoona has a one game lead in first place with eight games left in their schedule. They clinched a playoff spot on Sunday.
Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoff race.
West Virginia is out of the division race with eight games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team in the overall standings by two games and could make the playoffs if the finish second, because Lakewood won both half titles. The team they are chasing (Kannapolis) owns the tiebreaker, so West Virginia needs to finish ahead of them.
Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoff race.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoff race.
The GCL Pirates season ended.
The DSL Pirates1 season ended.
The DSL Pirates2 season ended.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 7-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates are off today as they travel to St Louis for three games. Ivan Nova will get the start, coming off of his outing on August 21st when he gave up two run over six innings against the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Jack Flaherty, who has a 2.97 ERA in 115.1 innings, with 144 strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates four times this season, allowing a total of seven earned runs over 22 innings, with six shutout innings in his last outing.
The minor league schedule includes Brandon Waddell trying to help Indianapolis to the playoffs. He threw six shutout innings in his last start. Altoona’s Logan Sendelbach gets a spot start tonight. He has allowed two runs over his last 18.1 innings. After allowing nine runs over 3.1 innings in his Bradenton debut, Domingo Robles has given up two runs over 13 innings. Ike Schlabach is making his ninth start of the season for West Virginia. He also has 19 relief appearances. As a starter, he has a 3.41 ERA, compared to 4.31 in relief. Morgantown’s Osvaldo Bido allowed six runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings in his last start. In his prior game, he threw seven shutout innings, which followed a career high nine strikeouts three starts ago. The GCL/DSL seasons are over.
MLB: Pittsburgh (64-67) @ Cardinals (73-58) 8:15 PM 8/28
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.20 ERA, 95:27 SO/BB, 137.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (70-62) @ Louisville (57-72) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.32 ERA, 56:31 SO/BB, 73.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (74-56) vs Trenton (72-60) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Logan Sendelbach (4.10 ERA, 42:37 SO/BB, 63.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (55-68) @ Fort Myers (63-67) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (6.06 ERA, 14:6 SO/BB, 16.1 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (66-59) vs Hagerstown (51-74) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Ike Schlabach (3.87 ERA, 60:25 SO/BB, 76.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (27-41) vs Auburn (36-32) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (4.71 ERA, 50:15 SO/BB, 63.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (29-36) vs Danville (32-33) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
GCL: Pirates (27-25) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (32-40) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (27-45) (season preview)
From Saturday night, homers from Eric Wood (his tenth of the season) and Brett Kinneman
Kinneman’s third of the year came with two outs in the ninth
8/26: Pirates signed Luis Tejeda (his agreement was announced on July 2nd, officially signed August 26th).
8/26: Brad Case promoted to Morgantown.
8/26: Pirates suspend Luis Escobar and Yeudy Garcia. Blake Weiman and Elvis Escobar promoted to West Virginia.
8/26: Max Kranick placed on disabled list.
8/25: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Clay Holmes optioned to Indianapolis. AJ Schugel sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/25: Dylan Busby placed on West Virginia disabled list. Ryan Valdes promoted from Morgantown.
8/25: Pirates release Pedro Castillo, Ronaldo Paulino, Ruben Gonzalez, Ivan Rosario and Matthew Mercedes.
8/24: Pirates sign Nick Mears.
8/24: Pirates activate Sean Rodriguez from disabled list.
8/24: Montana DuRapau placed on disabled list.
8/23: Michael Feliz optioned to Indianapolis.
8/23: Casey Sadler placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Montana DuRapau activated from DL.
8/21: Pirates recall Clay Holmes. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.
8/21: Casey Sadler sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/20: Mariano Dotel, Braham Rosario and Jose Maldonado promoted from DSL to GCL Pirates. Yerry De Los Santos and Lizardy Dicent promoted from the GCL to Bristol.
8/20: Travis MacGregor placed on disabled list. Logan Stoelke promoted to West Virginia.
8/20: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Option Buddy Boshers to Indianapolis.
8/19: Bligh Madris activated from Bradenton disabled list. Justin Harrer returned to GCL Pirates
8/18: Stephen Alemais activated from the disabled list. Logan Ratledge placed on Altoona disabled list.
8/18: Manny Bejerano promoted to Morgantown.
8/18: Pat Dorrian promoted to Bristol.
8/17: Pirates sign Carlos Canache.
8/17: Sherten Apostel sent to Texas Rangers as the PTBNL in the Keone Kela trade.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus current Pirate shortstop Jordy Mercer turns 32 today. Starting with the most recent former players first:
Mike Maddux, 1995 Pirates. He gets lost in the shadow of his HOF brother, but he actually played 15 seasons in the majors, throwing a total of 472 games. His Pirates career was short with eight relief appearances and a 9.00 ERA. He was signed in April and released in May.
Mike Edwards, 1977 second baseman. He went 0-for-6 in seven games as a September call-up, then he got traded prior to the 1978 season. He has a twin brother named Marshall, who played in the majors for three seasons. The strange part about them is that his brother batted and threw lefty, while Mike hit and threw right-handed. The Pirates also had a player named Mike Edwards during the 2006 season.
Charlie Engle, 1930 infielder. The Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He hit .264 in 67 games. Only other Major League experience was 20 games for the 1925-26 Athletics.
Eddie Mulligan, 1928 infielder. Had a 25-year pro career. Hit .233 in 27 games, seeing very little time despite spending the entire year with the Pirates
Dave Wright, pitcher on July 22, 1895. His first two appearances in a Pirates’ uniform were actually mid-season exhibition games that he started. He only non-exhibition game appearance with the Pirates came as a reliever, throwing the last two innings of a game on July 22nd. He gave up six runs in his first inning, then threw a scoreless ninth. His only other Major League game came in 1897 and he defeated the Pirates, throwing a 15-14 complete game.