When Does Josh Harrison Become Part of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ SS Discussion?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports.com.  Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.

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  • Jeff Wilkin

    Whoever wrote this article should be fired. Harrison has a handfull of games at short and Mercer has 10 at bats. Lets pencil in Taylor Lewis and Dickerson in Left and right since they hit over .400 this spring.

    • Vinny Gala

      Meant to reply directly. See above.

    • Farva55

      You don’t know baseball. The end.

      • Guest

        Prove it. Let’s have your version of how I don’t know baseball. Let’s roll.

  • Dave

    Agreed. Ridiculous, we are 5 games into the season. Obviously this writer doesn’t have the talent to print anything but doomsday predictions.

    • Vinny Gala

      Meant to reply directly. Note above.

  • Vinny Gala

    1. Thank you for reading.
    2. I put a disclaimer for exactly what you are speaking of. “if the trend continues” and “granted, we are only five games into spring and are only talking about a limited number of at-bats”. Do you not agree? If the trend continues, you’d want Mercer and Barmes to get the start at short still? Guys, I realize it’s a small sample set, but should it not be considered if it continues to play out like this?
    3. It’s spring training. There isn’t a ton to write about concerning legitimate battles, as most positions are already set, with the exception of right field and first base. You want me to write about the Phillies’ series in July instead, as an example?
    4. Harrison has played short in 29 MLB games. It’s certainly scattered, I give you, but it’s more than a handfull. I think if his offensive production continues, having him in the lineup over Barmes/Mercer (or even over Alvarez against left-handed pitching) has a higher reward than the risk of his defense. On a team that struggles offensively, you need guys who can produce.
    5. I don’t think it’s a doomsday prediction. Barmes hit .211 last season. It’s real. Guys who are producing have to be in the lineup.