During the offseason, it was speculated that this would be the year in which Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes passed the starting torch over to Jordy Mercer. Things are going according to plan for the most part with one major exception — offensive production.
Both Barmes and Mercer are struggling at the dish so far this Spring, hitting .111 and .200 respectively. I will grant you that it’s only five games into Spring Training and we are talking about a limited number of at-bats, but that’s pretty awful for two guys expected to get the majority of starts at shortstop.
If this trend continues for Barmes and Mercer, the Pirates are going to need to consider other alternatives — like Josh Harrison. Harrison has gone nuts on Grapefruit League pitching so far this spring, posting a triple slash of .500/.500/1.250 with a double, triple and a homer in eight at-bats. Sure, it’s only eight at-bats, but it has to garner some attention from Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Harrison is primarily a utility guy, but he has some capability to play shortstop. With Mercer and Barmes both struggling, Harrison has to be given some innings at short, even if he’s not as strong a defender as the former.
Perhaps Hurdle will choose to use him in a platoon situation with Pedro Alvarez, as I mentioned in an earlier article, if he’s deemed to be too large of a defensive liability at short. Only time will tell, but Harrison can make a decision pretty difficult if he continues to perform at the plate.