Is there any Pirate that represents the bloggers vs. fans schism more than Josh Harrison? This is one of my favorite subjects. This subject pits two of the most inflexible groups of people I know of against one another. It pits the numbers based, SABR leadning bloggers against the heart and soul, hustle lovin’ Yinzers.
He is a a nightmare for bloggers as he doesn’t get on base at a great clip and rarely walks.
He is a dream for Yinzers and fans of hardnosed play because of his hustle. He is “scrappy”, a “sparkplug”.
In some ways he reminds me of another Pittsburgh Pirate that has been in a similar situation.
The fans have always loved Walker, but the more “refined” and “astute” minds in the blogging realm, and even on the radio have had a very hard time warming up to him. Much of that is because of his “Pittsburgh-kid” persona, and the fact that he seems to have a whole host of fanboys and girls.
Not to compare them as players though, because I think Walker is far superior. Just that their situation is a little similar in that regard.
Harrison really wasn’t that good last season. He struggled with the stick:
Those numbers are not special. Still in his first year he managed a 1.4 WAR. Adding in last year’s -0.2 WAR and you have a guy that has managed a pretty decent WAR over two years. Nothing great, but nothing too terrible either.
So what happened last year?
To me he either was overexposed, or wore down with the increased playing time. Except for his batting average his second half numbers were worse.
Outside of his poor batting average in both halves of the season his OBP and SLG were pretty well in line with his prior season. His OBP was actually better in the first half of last season than his season total in 2011, despite a substantially lower batting average. That means he at least appeared to become a little more patient at the plate. In fact despite a .039 lower BA average in 2012 his OBP only went down .002 points.
Harrison has always been a decent hitter in the minors. In fact Harrison had a .300+ average in every full season in the minors AND at every level in the minors. Contact was never a problem for him until last year.
I think he’ll bounce back. I think we’ll get an improved Josh Harrison this year.
Harrison played six positions for the Pirates. That alone should get him a spot on a pretty thin team.
His defense will never be gold glove, but as a bench player is he that bad? I don’t think so. Even his -0.2 WAR last year isn’t exactly a team killer as a part time player still on his rookie contract.
There isn’t a clear upgrade in the system at all, and Harrison has a pretty good chance to bounce back. Another thing I disagree with my blogger colleagues on? The effect decent guys have in a locker room. By all accounts Harrison is a great teammate. This isn’t talent at the expense of leadership, he’s a bench player.
So Harrison should absolutely be on the Opening Day roster. He has a chance to be a really good player off the bench.
Roster Watch: Pedro Alvarez
Roster Watch: Rod Barajas
Roster Watch: Clint Barmes
Roster Watch: A.J. Burnett
Roster Watch: Jeff Clement
Roster Watch: Kevin Correia
Roster Watch: Chase d’Arnaud
Roster Watch: Eric Fryer
Roster Watch: Jason Grilli
Roster Watch: Matt Hague
Roster Watch: Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt