Josh Harrison is More Than Just Heart and Hustle

Before tonight’s game Clint Hurdle presented Josh Harrison with the MLB Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle award. It’s an award based on two words that most fans often describe Harrison with. They’re two words that are intangible, and based on old baseball clichés. They’re two words that don’t give Josh Harrison justice for the season he’s had. Tangibly, Harrison has played tremendously this year.

Throughout the season, Harrison has continuously provided the Pirates with numerous, oftentimes clutch hits, and remarkable, instinctual defense. Tonight, Harrison once again provided his team with these qualities in spades.

He collected three hits on the night, a single, double, and triple, the last a triple off of Jonathan Broxton to drive in Andrew Lambo and spark the Pirates’ 2-1 victory.

“I was ready to hit. I was just looking for something that I can handle, and he gave it to me it first pitch,” Harrison said.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Josh Harrison had a single, double, and a triple tonight. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

In the field, he made play after play, seemingly always right where the ball was hit. At least two of those plays were well above average, the first one a diving stop to his left in the 4th to snag Devin Mesoraco at 1st, and the second a diving stop to his right in the 7th, slapping third with his hand to get Mesoraco, and whipping a strong throw to first to get Kristopher Negron.

The latter of those plays was completely instinctual, Harrison said.

“My right hand’s closer, it would have taken a lot more [time] to turn around, step on the bag, or hit it with my glove,” Harrison said.

In summation, it was a tremendous, multiple glowing adjective type of game for Harrison.

“We can watch a lot of major league baseball games, you’d be hard pressed to find a better all-around game that Josh had tonight,” Hurdle said.

For Hurdle, it’s not surprising that Harrison played like he did, and came up with the clutch triple against the wall in the 8th.

“You do [expect him to get a hit]. He’s kind of given everybody that believe,” Hurdle said

On defense, Hurdle wasn’t surprised by Harrison’s play either.

“He’s just so instinctive. It’s such a quick read for him ball off bat. First step quickness is excellent,” Hurdle said.

For all of Hurdle’s lustrous praise, Edinson Volquez’s comments shined even brighter.

“He’s unbelievable, he can do everything. For me he’s the MVP [of the league],” Volquez said.

Edinson Volquez thinks that Harrison is the MVP of the league. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Edinson Volquez thinks that Harrison is the MVP of the league. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Perhaps the biggest compliment for Harrison, though, was that he was able to outshine Volquez’s outing. Volquez brought a no-hitter into the 7th, which was broken up by Mesoraco with a single to left. On the night, Volquez scattered one run, three hits, and six strikeouts over 7 and two-thirds innings. He threw 114 pitches—71 of them strikes—and recorded ten groundouts and two fly outs. For most of the game the Reds struggled to make strong contact, as Volquez continuously mixed and kept down his fastball, sinker, changeup, and knuckle-curve.

When at his best, it’s the type of outing one’s come to expect from Volquez. Quietly and efficiently, he’ll cruise through the game, striking out hitters occasionally, but mostly dominating them by inducing weak groundouts.

“He did keep the fastball down, he moved it in and out,” Hurdle said. “The curveball, the changeup played at times.”

Volquez was more unassuming in his reasoning for his success.

“Good warm-up, good pregame, and I was able to bring it to the game and execute pitches.”

The outing brought Volquez ERA down to 3.45, though it didn’t give a win, as his mound mate, Mike Leake, was almost as spectacular. In his career, Leake has mostly given the Pirates trouble, though he’s struggled against them this year. Today, he got back to his old ways, pitching seven scoreless innings.

Tony Watson was awarded the win, upping his record to 10-1. Mark Melancon wrapped the game up with a clean, hitless 9th, giving him his 25th save. The victory upped the Pirates’ record to 70-64. Vance Worley (5-4, 3.14 ERA) will oppose Alfredo Simon (13-8, 3.26 ERA) in tomorrow’s game, as the Pirates’ continue their quest for a playoff spot.

  • Jhay is hands down the bucs mvp this year, and should ( though he probably won’t be) seriously in any discussion for league mvp. It’s not much if any of a strech to say he is the key reason the pirates are still in contention, to me he is what the term mvp is all about.

  • J-Hay, another nice pick up by Huntington. It is too bad that these kids get labeled when they are in the minors, J-Hay got a label as a utility player that took a monumental season to overcome, shows how committed the so called experts are to labels. IMO, the Pirates need to review there label system.

  • He’s the team MVP this year and c/should even receive a few votes for league MVP. He’s been that good. He’s a throwback, too. He’s a very aggressive, early-count hitter, like Manny Sanguillen, he hustles on every play, like Scrap Iron Garner, and he’s the closest thing we’ve had to Mad Dog Madlock at 3B since, well, Mad Dog himself. Imagine if he continues to improve, even if at a slower clip than he has over the past couple years? He could be a fixture at 3B, and top league star, for years to come. Who would have thunk it just 5 months ago?

    • Actually, Harrison’s defense at third base is just the way he played there while in AA. As for his approach, it hasn’t changed much either. He always looked to me like he was going up there to rip the first fastball he felt he would be able to square up. About like he did to Broxton last might in the eighth inning.

  • You all are probably much too young to remember, but Elroy Face had a lot of that Watson stuff going on the season he was 18 & 1.

    • http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=facero01&t=p&year=1959
      That’s the link to his game logs for his 18-1 season. It tells the game situations for when he entered and finished the games and etc. I was trying to figure out his vulture wins but I got a headache trying to figure it out, lol. And then I thought the save rules were different then also. So I gave up and am looking to see if someone who actually understands stats has already figured it out.

  • What a great game – it was a joy to watch in person – JHay was great, EV worked some magic – no fastball and still took a no hitter into the late innings. But from my seats I had a great view of Martin – he was AWESOME. Stopped at least 4 balls that should have advanced runners. But the best thing he did around the sixth inning on was to take a walk to to mound – visit with EV – wait for the ump to come out and tell him to resume play. Getting the game to the pen late in the 7th versus the 5th or 6th was huge – and Martin played a huge role in making that happen.

    • I saw that too Bruce,particularly after the play where Davis flipped that ball in the hole to Volquez covering.

  • That Tony Watson is 2nd on the Pirates in wins is just another example of how meaningless the statistic is. In 4 of those 10 wins, Watson gave up the tying or go-ahead run.

    • Monsoon Harvard
      August 30, 2014 4:54 am

      Agreed. There should be a way to give EV the win in a case like this, if only to save this statistic from becoming meaningless. It really is a fault in the way wins are awarded.

    • Scott Kliesen
      August 30, 2014 6:57 am

      Watson has been terrific this year, but as you rightly point out, his record is a byproduct of a good number of “vulture” wins.

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