Nothing official yet, but Justin Morneau apparently has set a Pittsburgh sports record for lengthy crappy performance without the fandom of the region reigning down torrents of abuse upon him.
Winning will do that. Or maybe it's famously friendly Pittsburghers giving the new guy in town a break.
But the fact is this: It would be hard to find a worse No. 4 hitter than Morneau has been. And that would include the deposed No. 4 hitter Pedro Alvarez.
Since joining the Pirates Sept. 1, Morneau has been a superior defensive first baseman and a decent hitter, but one whose calling card has been drawing walks, not driving in runs. He's sort of been a left-handed Gaby Sanchez, and fans long ago tired of that act.
Morneau, who moved into the No. 4 spot on Sept. 3, is batting a respectable .260 with a very good .385 on-base percentage. But his slugging percentage is a preposterously low .315 and his OPS is .683. To give those final two numbers a bit of perspective, Sanchez, for the season, has a slugging percentage of .405 and an OPS of .767. The average for an MLB No. 4 hitter is .451 and .788.
Or course, the real case against Morneau is no home runs and three RBIs in 73 at bats with the Pirates. Batting behind Jose Tabata/Starling Marte, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen that simply isn't good enough.
In fairness, this is not the Morneau anyone expected. He is a long-established player, who is probably on his down side but who did considerably better the first five months of the season with the Minnesota Twins. He had 17 home runs and 74 RBIs in 495 at bats with the Twins. His slugging percentage was .426, his OPS .741.
The argument could be made that Morneau is the best the Pirates have and, besides, they're winning with this lineup. Actually, he might not be the best they have and the Pirates are 12-11 since Morneau moved into the fourth spot and 13-12 since he joined the team.
So the question is this: Following his 35th home run of the season last night, is it time to put Alvarez back into the No. 4 spot? In the past eight games, he is 10-for-32 (.313) with two homers and eight RBIs. He might be off on one of his might rolls.
It's a tough call, particularly at such a critical juncture of the season, but it's one Hurdle should be considering.