August 10, 2012: Pittsburgh, PA, USA: Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Travis Snider (23) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates Travis Snider named breakout candidate for 2013

When Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington acquired outfielder Travis Snider in exchange for Brad Lincoln at last season’s trade deadline, the word associated with Snider was upside.

Sep 27, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Travis Snider (23) makes a leaping catch at the wall on a ball hit by New York Mets right fielder Mike Baxter (not pictured) during the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

That didn’t really show in the two months that Snider was in a Pirates’ uniform last season, but he also didn’t get much of an opportunity to show what he can do.

But as we head into the 2013 season, Snider has caught someone’s eye.

Baseball Prospectus released a list of nine breakout candidates, with each writer picking one player to have a breakout season in the majors in 2013, with one of the breakout candidates being Snider.

Hudson Belinsky picked Snider as his breakout player, noting that the outfielder “could have a very strong year ahead of him in 2013″. Belinsky noted that the physical ability is there for Snider, and that he maintains the abilities that made him a top prospect.

Belinsky wrote:

The change-of-scenery effect—wherein players fail to play up to their potential, change teams, then live up to their potential—is a difficult thing to prove. If the player changes teams and fails again, he probably just isn’t that good anymore. If the player changes teams and succeeds, his success may have been inevitable. Whether we can prove it or not, it seems to be a wise, roll-of-the-dice sort of strategy.

The Pirates took a stab at a change-of-scenery guy last July, when they acquired Travis Snider from Toronto in exchange for reliever Brad Lincoln. Snider, not so long ago, was praised for his sound approach at the plate and a quick, controlled bat. Things got out of whack, but Snider maintains the abilities that made him a top prospect and, when the Pirates acquired him, he was excited to be a part of a “contending organization.” (What a difference an offseason makes.)

Snider enjoyed a splendid first month with the Bucs, posting a .287/.370/.402 line through August. His .353 batting average on balls in play screamed regression, but he did draw 11 walks on that span. The now-25-year-old was oddly terrible against right-handed pitching in 2012, and some regression there, coupled with the ability to hit southpaws, should bode well for Snider in 2013. It isn’t incredibly likely, but Snider could have a very strong year ahead of him in 2013. The physical ability is there, and if he finds a way to make things work, he could break out this season.

It’s nice to see a Pirates player garner attention and I still believe Snider can do some big things in a Pirates’ uniform.

He is penciled in as the everyday right fielder right now and if things play out that way, Snider could indeed be a guy who is in store for a breakout season in 2013.

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