Pittsburgh Pirates: Jung Ho Kang should be in consideration at short
Pittsburgh Pirates shortstops have been underwhelming this season. Perhaps a familiar face could make another position change and solidify that spot in the lineup.
The Pittsburgh Pirates quiet offseason caused a great deal of consternation amongst their fanbase. While their biggest acquisitions were brought in at the trade deadline in 2018 in the form of Chris Archer and Keone Kela, the hope was that the Pirates would address the existing holes on the roster.
One of those expected weaknesses was the shortstop position. The Pirates approach there was to give former top prospect Kevin Newman a longer look while trading for utility man Erik Gonzalez. While Newman was expected to hit, his defense at short was questionable. Gonzalez has the glove, but his offensive production was mediocre at best.
Thus far in 2019, those expectations have played out as expected. Newman had three hits in 12 plate appearances before his injury, drawing a walk and striking out three times. Defensively, in just 17 innings at short, he was already considered to have cost the Pirates a run while displaying below average range.
Conversely, Gonzalez has been a disaster with the bat. In 56 plate appearances, he has posted a .208/.296/.292 batting line, with just three extra-base hits. He has proven his value with the glove, however, saving the Pirates three runs.
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As neither player has exactly seized the position, there are questions as to what Pittsburgh should do at short. Prospect Cole Turner has performed well in AAA to start the season, but the Pirates do not seem to be looking to rush him to the majors. In that case, their other option at short would be Jung Ho Kang.
Moving Kang to short would be a somewhat questionable move. He has not played the position at the major league level since 2015 but did have eight games at short in the minors last year. During the 2015 campaign, he was essentially league average at the position, worth zero runs defensively and showing average range.
Although Kang has also struggled with the bat, his power is still evident. Four of his six hits on the year have gone for extra bases, with two doubles and two homers. Meanwhile, Colin Moran has had a hot start to his season, posting a .300/.400/.567 batting line with two doubles and two homers in 35 plate appearances.
The Pirates lineup has struggled to score runs, ranking 12th in the National League heading into Thursday. While having both Kang and Moran in the lineup will not cure all of those lineup ills, it would add more power to the Pirates batting order. Even if this is a defensive alignment that happens once or twice a week, it may be worth consideration.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have not gotten the production they hoped for from the shortstop position. Although it has not been mentioned as a possibility, giving Jung Ho Kang some time at short could help boost the lineup.