Jose Tabata hit the weight room this winter. He wanted to bulk up.
He is back in town today, not to be activated off the DL, but to be evaluated. Whatever the hell that means, I guess running sprints and showing off his guns. Tabata knew getting bigger was a key to what he wanted to accomplish in 2011. This offseason we looked closely at players that would have the most impact on the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates. We declared that it would be Tabata that would be the player who held the ability to improve the most this season out of the fab five of the Pittsburgh Pirates core of Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Joel Hanrahan and Neil Walker.
We knew Cutch would be a special player. We thought Pedro would hit bombs. We felt that Walker would stay rock solid and he has certainly exceeded those expectations. Hanrahan has been insane.
But Tabata would be the key. We anticipated him taking some major steps forward for the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.
Jennifer Langosch reports that Tabata is back in the clubhouse today. When we look back this offseason, will 2011 be a lost season for Tabata? Or can he salvage something, prove that he is indeed a key young* member of the team moving forward? Could he grow as a low-slugging hitter that roams left field? Or will he be in right field now–an idea he would have to embrace.
Or is Tabata will he be an all-around left fielder that may be best suited for CF in the future should his power numbers not be sustained?
We thought for certain he would build off his very solid freshman campaign. Tabata had a solid second half. He was locked in for the Bucs. He ripped 30 hits in 79 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Seven doubles. Three triples. The numbers rank third among players that had at least 50 at-bats with teammates in scoring position that hit .320 or higher. [Baseball Digest]
To be a corner outfielder in baseball, power is important. To be a corner in the NL Central, power is required. Power production in left field is something that has been rare since the Jason Bay trade. With a failed 2011 Pirates platoon in right field, Clint Hurdle will be leaning on Tabata to make a statement with his return to the lineup. Some prime time production. We think Tabata is more than capable.
Tabata didn’t produce large power numbers in 2010. He slugged .400. Apparently, he knows all too well just how important power is. This offseason he told Rob Biertempfel that he has bulked up. Captain Intensity wants to hit homeruns.
“The power is there, I know it is. The ball was jumping off my bat in winter ball. It’s a good feeling, but I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”—Jose Tabata
Welcome back Jose. Knock ‘em dead on your evaluation.