Matt Hague entered Spring Training as having an outside shot of making the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ roster as the backup first-baseman and potential platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez with Andrew Lambo and Chris McGuiness for the spot. After five games are in the books, that outside chance is not looking so hot right now, as Hague has struggled with one very important factor of the game — defense. So far in five games, Hague has committed four errors in total — two fielding and two throwing — and has become the Pirates’ version of Rube Baker, the rookie catcher from the Major League franchise that became noted for his inability to return the ball to the pitcher successfully. It’s not quite the same situation with Hague, but it makes for an entertaining comparison. His four errors in 19 total chances ranks him near the bottom of the Pirates’ defensive performers with a .789 fielding percentage, which is completely unacceptable for a Major League first baseman.
Offensively speaking, Hague has had a fairly decent Spring Training so far by all accounts, posting a triple slash of .300/.364/.300 (which is essentially three singles in ten at-bats mixed with a walk). That’s certainly not very impressive by Spring Training standards, especially if you are trying to overshadow other guys with your performance, but it’s better than the .091 that Lambo is hitting.
Comparatively, Lambo and McGuiness both have perfect fielding percentages so far this spring. McGuiness is shining brighter offensively than the two and Hague brighter than Lambo, who is struggling mightily at the dish so far this Spring. Make no mistake, though, as Hague could be hitting .500 with a couple home runs and there’s not much of a chance he would make the team out of Spring Training due to his defensive liability. On a team that doesn’t tend to generate enough offense, keeping runs off the scoreboard becomes very important. The best way to prevent teams from scoring is to keep them off of the base-paths when they shouldn’t be there.