Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is There Value In Pittsburgh’s New Infielders (Kang/Gonzalez)?

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There had been questions as to how the Pirates would fill the left side of their infield, but we finally got clarity at both spots:

Now fantasy owners have to wonder if:

  1. Either will be able to hold the job?
  2. Either can produce enough to be a viable option?

Jung Ho Kang
It’s been a long road for Kang, who virtually lost two full seasons.  This spring he’s looking like the same player who made an impact back in 2016 (.255 with 21 HR over 370 PA) with 6 HR in 36 AB.  While the power is nice he’s also hitting just .194 as he’s posted 17 K vs. 3 BB.

You want to give him the benefit of the doubt, as it is possible that he’s simply getting back up to speed after the lengthy absence.  Back in 2016 he showed a strong command of the strike zone:

  • SwStr% – 9.1%
  • O-Swing% – 25.0%

There is the chance that he gets back to those types of numbers, but it also is hardly a guarantee.  Let’s not underestimate the potential of Ke’Bryan Hayes, who had his own strong showing this spring (.346 with 2 HR and 9 RBI over 26 AB) and will be only a phone call away.  Hayes does have questions in regards to his power potential, but his presence is going to put pressure on Kang to produce or lose his job.

There’s a good chance that Kang doesn’t make it through the season, let alone the first two months.  He’s a gamble worth taking, but don’t expect much.

Verdict – Highly likely he loses job before All-Star Break

Erik Gonzalez
The Pirates are loaded with potential shortstop options, with Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer all representing alternatives.  In 275 PA in the Majors Gonzalez has hit .263 with 5 HR and 4 SB, and while he’s shown a little bit of power and speed in the minors he’s perceived to be more of a utility player as opposed to a trustworthy starter.  Consider it only a matter of time before he’s replaced. As a short-term plug-in early in the season it’s possible he holds a little bit of value, but it’s hard to envision him succeeding for very long.

Verdict – Highly likely he loses job before All-Star Break

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kang is mashing the ball right now. Once he gets his timing down he’s not losing anything. What are you basing this on?

    • This spring is a small sample, but it’s been HR or bust thus far. You have to wonder if he’s swinging for the fences or if the long layoff is going to have an impact.

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