Pittsburgh Pirates season preview: A look at the outfielders

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Opening Day for the Pittsburgh Pirates now sits only three days away. With that being said, I continue my trip around the diamond and today I land in the outfield.

The Pirates outfield will likely be the strength of their team once again in 2013, and why not? All they have coming back is an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen.

August 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) waits out a pitching change by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

However any success that the Bucs may or may not have in 2013 could depend on the guys to the left and right of the two-time All-Star.

In the upcoming years it will be interesting to see how the Bucs handle the young outfielders in the system, as that is the one position that they are loaded.

But we are talking 2013, so here’s a look at how the outfielders will do.

Starters:

Left Field: Starling Marte

I love what Marte can bring to the table in 2013, but I hate the fact that he is hitting at the top of the order.

Marte has a ceiling about as high as McCutchen’s. He is a very good defensive outfielder with cannon for an arm. Offensively I think we will see more power than expected and guy that can use his speed to his advantage.

The difference between the two though is that Marte still has to mature as a player. If he can make that leap this season, Marte could have a big season.

As for this year though, I assume most of his value will be with his legs and against left-handed pitching, where he had an OPS of 1.042 last season

I don’t know if the power will develop this season, but he is coming off a very good spring, so that is at least encouraging.

2013 Projections: .270 AVG/ .325 OBP/ .480 SLG/ 15 HR/ 60 RBI/ 25 SB

Center Field: Andrew McCutchen

Cutch tore things up last season and despite some struggles in the final two months, still posted outstanding numbers.

To illustrate how good Cutch was in 2012, he still had a WAR of 7.24 despite not doing much in August and September.

McCutchen will be the centerpiece of the Pirates’ offense and the only question is if he can keep up his MVP pace for an entire season. The power numbers are enticing and should be there again, although I would expect the average to come back to earth a little bit.

2013 Projections: .315/.375/.550/ 27/ 90/ 25

Right Field: Travis Snider

Snider now appears to be the starter in what has turned to be a revolving door in right field.

Some people may be down on the 25-year old after last season’s trade that brought him to Pittsburgh, but Snider has the chance to have a sneaky good season. That all depends on if his power ever arrives.

He’s made strides with pitch selection the past two seasons, but there is a disturbing trend of more grounders than fly balls. That needs to change.

Defensively he is above average and will be fine in right field.

Snider posted a .908 OPS in the minors; it would be nice if it translated to the big league level. I’m thinking people will be surprised with him if he is given a full year of at bats

2013 Projections: .270/ .325/ .425/ 15/65

Bench: Jose Tabata

Tabata had a point to prove in spring training and looks like a different player.

If he continues his strong spring, the Tabata could see a lot of at bats in right field, especially if Snider struggles. It would benefit the Bucs if he did, because I would much rather see Tabata at the top of the lineup and move Marte down a bit.

Tabata has been a lazy player in the past and shown signs of not taking his craft seriously. If spring training is any indication, those days are gone.

They better be if he has any plans of sticking in the majors.

2013 Projections: .265/ .320/ .385/ 3/ 35/ 18

If Needed: Garrett Jones

I detailed Jones in my preview of the first basemen, but he will still get his share of starts in right field.

2013 Projections: .255 AVG/.305 OBP/.500 SLG/ 22 HR/ 70 RBI

 

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