Pittsburgh Pirates: Travis Snider Scuffling In Spring, Still Missing Power Stroke

By Thom Tsang
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no way to put it lightly: Travis Snider is at a key juncture of his MLB career in 2013.

After being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle of 2012 in a change-of-scenery deal, the former top prospect needed to show that the prodigal power that had him drafted as a 14th overall pick was still alive and well.

That didn’t happen in Pittsburgh last season, and though he came into Spring Training for the 2013 season with the team’s starting right fielder job in hand, he’s not doing much in spring to earn it.

Snider has eight hits over 31 spring at-bats thus far, including four doubles, so you couldn’t call it a total disappearing act. That said, he’s drawn just three walks, leading to an underwhelming .258/.297/.387 triple-slash thus far. He also hasn’t homered yet, and already has 11 strikeouts to boot.

All said, he’s on pace to have his worst Spring Training campaign of his career to date.

And while the Pirates can easily take the “this is just the time to work on things” approach here, the lack of plate discipline and the lack of power the 25-year old has show could be of some concern.

Well, at least the latter, anyway. Snider wasn’t exactly known for being a disciplined hitter with the Toronto Blue Jays (27.3 percent strikeouts), but he’d shown enough power (.181 SLG, 31 homers over 907 PA) to show for it. Over 145 PA as a Pirates player, however, the lefty hitter has just one homer, good for an uncharacteristically-low .078 SLG while he reworked his swing.

Now, it seems as though that process — along with the accompanying power drought — is continuing.

Even if it stays that way over last couple of weeks of March, though, it probably won’t be enough to lose him his starting job … at least, not yet anyway.

While Snider hasn’t exactly done enough to help him in this regard, one of the most talked-about circumstances around his slowed development as a prospect has been the fact that the Blue Jays never gave him a consistent chance to hold on to a starting job throughout the years.

It’s not something that I’d imagine the Pirates will repeat soon, unless Snider has effectively played himself out of a job by the time it’s the summer.

Should that happen, though, the team is not without its share of potential replacements, with Jose Tabata (who is out of options) and Alex Presley both in the running for a fourth outfielder job spot this spring.

It’s Snider who has the most upside between them, but he’s going to have to start showing his power stroke soon to build up some more leash ahead of the season.

Otherwise, he may eventually find himself looking behind for someone to close in on his job, as he’d done through most of his career.

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