“Bae Ji-hwan, virtually a negative player” defense is also criticized by the US local media, and is becoming increasingly untenable.
Bae Ji-hwan (24, Pittsburgh Pirates)’s shaky defense is on the chopping block.
The Pittsburgh Prospect highlighted Pittsburgh’s defensive woes this season, saying, “Pittsburgh has invested in improving its defense, but it still struggles.”
The Pirates accelerated their rebuild ahead of this season by signing Andrew McCutchen (37), veteran infielders Carlos Santana (37) and Ji-Man Choi (32), and catcher Austin Hedges (31), all of whom led the team in their prime. The focus was on defense. Choi and Santana were solid defensive first basemen, and Hedges was an established defensive stalwart.
But after 22 games, Pittsburgh ranks dead last in most defensive metrics, including 19th in team Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and 20th in Outs Above Average (OAA).
Part of that is due to Bae’s poor defense. This season, Bae has been a utility player at three positions: second base (148 innings), center field (125⅔ innings), and shortstop (24 innings). While he’s been producing runs here and there, his statistical numbers aren’t what they seem.
At shortstop and center field, he was giving up two more runs than the league average defender with a DRS of -2, and at second base, his natural position, he was below average with a DRS of -1. “Rodolfo Castro has established himself as the worst shortstop in baseball, and you have to go all the way down to 88th (69th among shortstops on the 22nd) to find Bae,” the Pittsburgh Prospect wrote, adding that “overall, Bae is actually a negative player at three positions.”
If defense is one of his weaknesses, Bae’s place in the major leagues is diminishing. For now, his strengths are his quick feet, which rank in the top 3% of major leaguers, and his versatility to play multiple positions. However, neither of those are working. He has 14 stolen bases in 42 games, but his low batting average (.254) and on-base percentage (.311) have kept him from getting on base. Even when he does get on base, his success rate isn’t great with five stolen bases, and he’s now gone 11 games without a stolen base. Most importantly, he needs to improve his defense, which is the difference between a starter and a non-starter. Without a solid bat, the only role for a speedy fielder is as a pinch hitter.
Of course, it’s not just Bae’s problem, but Pittsburgh’s as well. As Pittsburgh Prospect put it, “If the Pirates were one of the better hitting teams in the league, you could forgive them a lot of their defensive issues. But they’re not that team,” he said, adding, “A pitching staff that ranks near the bottom of the league in strikeouts means more in-play situations. In that sense, it’s no surprise that Pittsburgh is currently in a downward spiral after a hot start to the season 먹튀검증.”