Pittsburgh Pirates’ super utility man Josh Harrison was quite the first half story, putting together the best two months of his major league career, earning himself a trip to the 2014 MLB All-Star Game in the process.
But as unpredictable as Harrison’s productive couple of months were, it was just as predictable that he would come crashing back to reality very quickly.
I liked to tell people it wouldn’t last, but the masses still bought into the fact that Harrison was the savior.
While Harrison lit the world on fire during the months of May and June, he has quickly shown during the month of July why he shouldn’t be an everyday player despite his newfound fan support.
Pirates’ fans can point the fingers at the likes of Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez as their struggles have been magnified at times during the season, but Harrison’s recent slide should be just as noticeable.
Harrison raked National League pitching for a couple of months, hitting .317 in each of May and June. But since July 1 that batting average has dropped to .232 (13-for-56), after an 0-for-4 night on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That guy who came up with so many big hits for a two-month stretch has only four extra-base hits since the calendar has turned to July.
In addition, and more disturbing, is the fact that his OBP has taken a sharp turn towards his career norm, which was one of the worst marks in all of the majors during the past four seasons. Harrison has a career OBP of only .299 and that number has been increased a bit by a .356 OBP this May and a .358 mark in June.
For the month of July he is back under his career mark at only .267.
Throw in the fact that he is slugging only .321, down from .488 in May and .465 in June and his .588 OPS for the month is down drastically from the near .840 mark he posted over the past two months and there should be cause for concern.
It’s not a problem that Harrison is struggling at the moment because that is who he is and that is who he has been for his entire career.
The calls for Harrison to be an everyday player should stop as he is not, and never will be an MLB everyday guy.
That’s doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value though, but if his struggles continue, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is going to have to start picking his spots for Harrison as it doesn’t make sense to run him out there every night.
Harrison is a guy who can give the team a lift for a couple week stretch at a time. This year, Pirates’ fans have been fortunate enough to see him sustain it for a two month period when the Pirates really needed it.
At the end of the day though this was bound to happen.
The baseball season is a six month journey.
A player isn’t made by two solid months.
The bottom line is that if his struggles continue the rest of the month, Harrison should find himself a seat on the bench more often. He’s been a bench player for a reason and that is where he likely belongs. It’s a role where he can be successful.
But the days of trying to find a spot for him in the lineup almost everyday should be close to being over.
Harrison will do some good things to help the Pirates win from time to time, but he is far more likely to revert to his career norms, a four-year sample size, than continue a two-month hot streak.
I often said talk to me in October when people would drool over what Harrison was doing during May and June.
If he keeps up his struggles, you can just go ahead and talk to me in July.
Photo Credit: Post-Gazette