Pittsburgh Pirates: Travis Snider laying claim to right field job

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been searching for someone to become a fixture in front of the Clemente Wall in right field for some time now.

They thought they had their guy in Jose Tabata and over the course of the past couple of seasons, the likes of Alex Presley,  Garrett Jones and plenty of others have tried to man the position unsuccessfully.

April 18, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Travis Snider (23) hits a double against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully they have found their man in Travis Snider.

When Snider was acquired at the trade deadline last season it was with the purpose that he would become the right fielder for some time to come, but things didn’t exactly work out that way.

A hamstring injury in the second half of 2012 meant that the Bucs didn’t get a good look at Snider, but coming into spring training, he was all but listed as the team’s primary right fielder.

That didn’t go as planned either.

Snider didn’t do much in March, so manager Clint Hurdle elected to get the hot bat of Gaby Sanchez in the lineup and move Jones to right field. Snider received only one start through the Pirates first six games, a span in which they struggled, going only 1-5.

But since then, the Pirates fortunes have turned around, winners of 9-of-12. However it’s no coincidence that Snider has started 10 of those games in right.

We haven’t exactly seen the power we had heard about when Snider was acquired for reliever Brad Lincoln as he hasn’t homered on the season, though he has missed hitting a pair by mere inches. As a matter of fact, Snider has hit only one homer in a Pirates uniform, which spans 170 at bats.

But despite the lack of homers, Snider is showing his value.

He’s a guy that seems to be fitting in nicely to the No. 2 hole in the Pirates lineup. If Snider is having success there, it makes the lineup much deeper overall.

On the season, he leads the Pirates with a .357 batting average, but more importantly Snider leads all Pirates regulars with a .449 OBP and a .973 OPS. That means he’s been getting on base at a very high rate and coming through with some big hits in the process, exactly what the Pirates need from their right fielder and 2-hole hitter.

While he hasn’t been hitting he ball out of the yard, he has been hitting the ball very hard as seven of his 15 hits have been doubles. Hitting in front of Andrew McCutchen, I will certainly take a doubles machine hitting in the two spot.

Snider currently is riding an eight-game hit streak and has hits in his last 10 starts, further cementing his value to this team right now.

It’s a little early to claim Snider the “Next Big Thing,” but his start to the 2013 season is certainly encouraging.

Just to compare for those of you that still miss Lincoln, he has struggled big time since the trade. The former first-round pick put up a 5.65 with the Blue Jays after the trade and is currently holding a 4.50 ERA with Buffalo, Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate. And if you haven’t noticed, the Pirates bullpen has been just fine without him.

Hopefully Snider can keep up his current pace, which is doubtful.

But one thing is for sure and that is the Pirates have found their right fielder for now as Snider’s name should be penciled into the two-hole on almost a nightly basis.

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Topics: Brad Lincoln, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Travis Snider

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