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Bearcats in the Big Leagues: Eat Your Vegetables

We’re looking at defense a little bit this week.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Josh Harrison

Let’s talk about defense. I hear your groans, but defense is a big part of the game and we need to discuss it from time to time just like you need to eat your vegetables. So here comes the airplane aka an examination of Josh Harrison’s defense this season.

As usual, Harrison has spent time at a few different posts, primarily at third base, which is a change of pace for him, as he is a second baseman by trade. Harrison has played 28 games at third, 22 at second and four in left field. It may pay off for the Pirates to keep putting Harrison at the hot corner, as he has three defensive runs saved at that position, while posting a combined -1 at second and in left. He’s still covered ground in left, with a UZR of 0.5, which is better than what he has at third (0.1) and second (-0.2). Those numbers aren’t great, but they aren’t horrendous either.

So what does this tell us? It tells us Harrison is a useful player, who can play at least average defense at a number of spots, basically just affirming something we already knew. Still, its goo to check in and make sure things are still staying steady and not declining.

Now, for sitting through a defensive lesson, here’ a fun highlight of Harrison making an awesome catch to rob Bartolo Colon of a knock.

Now here are your offensive statistics for the week, and it was a good one for Harrison, who slashed .387/.441/.419 in 34 plate appearances. He has gotten a hit in six-straight games, and has had eight in the last three games (16 PAs). Overall, Harrison is batting .304/.366/.462 with six home runs and 20 runs scored.

Ian Happ

Happ is here to stay. At least he’s making it pretty darn hard for the Cubs to send him back down to the minors. After a strong first week in the bigs, he’s just kept on trucking. His .250/.318/.450 slash line over the last six games isn’t stellar, but its been good enough, especially with his three extra base hits and the fact that Joe Maddon has been comfortable enough starting him five times while batting him in the middle of the order. If there is anything to be wary of, its the fact that Happ has a 40.9 percent strikeout rate this past week, so its possible MLB pitchers are starting to adjust.

Already worth 0.4 fWAR, Happ is slashing .297/.409/.622 with a wRC+ of 166 in an admittedly small sample size.

Connor Walsh

After a nice outing last Friday, Walsh had a rough go of it on Wednesday. He threw a shutout inning of relief on May 19, striking out two and earning his second hold of the campaign. He then gave up a lead in just 13 of an inning on May 24, surrendering a three-run home run that scaled his ERA up to 4.71, the highest it has been in nearly a month. The 24-year-old right-hander has struck out 21 batters in as many innings and is allowing teams to bat just .173 off of him, but control issues have hurt him, as he’s walked 17 batters and has a WHIP of 1.43.

Ryan Atkinson

Its clear why the Diamondbacks took a chance on Atkinson, as he has shown some lights out stuff in his short minor league career. Across two levels this season, he has struck out 53 in 45 23 innings, including a pair of 10-K efforts. His most recent one came on Wednesday when he fanned 10 in 5 23 innings. However, those strikeouts didn’t stop him from giving up four runs on six hits and two walks. Atkinson has walked 17 batters in his last 28 innings and had his ERA jump from 1.06 to 3.86 over the last week. He is 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA overall this season, with the 3.86 mark coming in five games with the Visalia Rawhide.