It's pretty well established that Josh Harrison's 2014 campaign was the outlier. He hit 13 homers that year but has gone deep only 15 times (combined) in his five other seasons. In 2016, Harrison started 122 games at second base, more than double his highest previous total (57 games). At the beginning of August, he was batting .266/.297/.375 primarily as a sixth or seventh hitter when Pittsburgh slotted him into the leadoff spot. In his final 33 games, Harrison hit .326/.345/.420 before suffering a season-ending groin injury. He's too much of a free swinger to profile as an ideal leadoff man, but he may be Pittsburgh's best choice once again in 2017. Harrison swiped a career-high 19 bases (on 23 attempts) and while he's hit .283 or better in each of the last three seasons, his lack of power limits his overall fantasy value.
Harrison could see time at third base in addition to second base, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. "There may be opportunity for conversation if we get short in a position," Hurdle said. "If situations change, I do think there is a buy-in that's real with him. I do think his versatility can help him." With third baseman Jung Ho Kang (restricted list) out indefinitely, the team is expected to primarily play David Freese at third base. If he struggles like he did at the end of 2016, however, look for Harrison to take over the hot corner and Adam Frazier to start at second base. Harrison had his best seasons as a super-utility player and could reprise that role in 2017.
Harrison will join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, replacing the injured Matt Carpenter (back), Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Harrison has certainly earned the honor, emerging as one of the best utility players in the National League. The 29-year-old contributed a career-high 59 RBI and 19 stolen bases last season while batting .283 over 131 games. Harrison spent the offseason rehabbing from a groin injury, but it appears he's back to full strength and ready to showcase his skills on the international stage.
The Pirates could use Harrison as a utility player if Jung-Ho Kang (personal) is forced to miss time, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. "I do think there is a buy-in (to move) that's real with him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I do think his versatility can help him." Harrison had his career season in 2014 when he moved around the infield and outfield. Perhaps more importantly, he says he's recovered from a torn thumb ligament. Harrison underwent surgery in July of 2015 and never fully recovered in 2016. "If it was cold or if I didn't hit a ball right, just rolling over that joint sometimes would be painful enough to where I would know that it was still there," Harrison said. He followed a normal offseason program this past winter. "I was able to get after it like I wanted to, without any reservations," Harrison said. The 28-year-old hit .283 with a career-high 19 stolen bases last year but compiled a woeful .699 OPS.
Harrison (groin) is taking part in his normal offseason program, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports. Harrison injured his groin on Sept. 11 and did not appear in another game for the Pirates. It appears that he has progressed well and will be fully healthy for the start of spring training. It is not a guarantee that he will open the season with the Pirates, as it is rumored that the team is open to trading the second baseman whose offensive production has tapered off since his breakout 2014 campaign.
Harrison (groin) was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday. The Pirates needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster after trading for minor league infielder Chris Bostick, and considering Harrison was already ruled out for the season, he was the clear choice to send off. He'll return to the active roster sometime over the offseason and will likely get back to a starting role for Pittsburgh heading into next season.