The Pittsburgh Pirates could definitely find an upgrade in right field if they feel it is necessary, but they clearly feel that upgrading first base is more important. I couldn’t agree more with this. The Pirates need to upgrade first base before next season — they currently have Gaby Sanchez slotted as the everyday first baseman, and while he is great against lefties, he can’t be an everyday player. The Bucs could also use a starting pitcher or two and a middle infielder.
I know what you’re thinking — “Oh, no, this means we have to watch Jose Tabata (also known as “The Sloth” — a nickname he rightly earned for being lazy at times on defense) on a daily basis in 2014?”. Well, yes, it does mean that, but you know what? Regardless of the narrative that was given to Tabata two seasons ago — slow, lazy and basically not worth a roster spot — he was actually very good in 2013.
In just 341 plate appearances, Tabata hit .282/.342/.429 with a 118 wRC+. He isn’t great at running the bases or playing defense in the outfield (below average in both), but he does provide a steady on-base threat in the lineup. While he isn’t the prototypical corner outfielder, a power-hitting hitter that drives in a ton of runs, he is still valuable.
Tabata doesn’t necessarily draw a lot of walks. Just 6.7 percent of his plate appearances resulted in a ball-four call in 2013, and he has walked in just 7.8 percent of his plate appearances over his career, but he also doesn’t strike out much. Tabata has struck out in just 14.4 percent of his career plate appearances, and just 13.2 percent of his trips to the plate last season.
The problem with Tabata is that he doesn’t hit for much power and he doesn’t steal a lot of bases either. Other than getting on base at a decent rate, he doesn’t offer much else. However, he is more than serviceable for the Pirates until top prospect Gregory Polanco can take over in right field by June of next season at the earliest. Addressing first base is much more important than acquiring a right fielder that will block Polanco from reaching MLB.