Travis Snider--A big piece of the Pittsburgh Pirates puzzle in 2013. Photo: US Presswire

Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Preview: Do You Believe in Travis Snider?

Travis Snider needed a fresh start, or so the story went, when he was acquired at the deadline for former first-rounder Brad Lincoln from the Toronto Blue Jays.

In 50 games in his new Pittsburgh digs, the 24-year old was more and more underwhelming and a .250/.324/.328 line was the final result devoid of any of that former Pacific Coast League power that made him such a hot young prospect.   Snider made more contact, but often the contact was a groundball to second base.

In the upcoming season, (which for TeamRumBunter is just 21 Roberto Clemente days away until we land in Florida) Snider will still have youth on his side.  Snider pulled off one of the most athletic plays of the Major League Baseball Season with this Spider Man-like grab in a late September game.  It was a game against the Mets that meant little to most people.  But showed me something about Snider that makes me bite on his chances in 2013.  (Yeh, it doesn’t take much to suck me in)

We get the feeling that the big beef lover has something to prove in 2013.  Everyone knows he can hold down right field with his modest glove and thanks to his active twitter account, everyone also knows the guy loves to cook.

 

Once thought to be a future cornerstone of the Blue Jays franchise, Snider can glove it a little bit, he devours red meat, but the biggest question is can he hit big league pitching?  Although overall right field production in the National League isn’t what it once was, it’s not been impressive for the Pirates in some time.

It’s a big question with such a logjam of players that can at least hold down the right field position in 2013 for the Pirates.

What impact did being promoted to Toronto’s big club with just 1,302 plate appearances in the minors have?  At first look, it seemed like none.  While the Brad Lincoln struggled with Blue Jays, Snider brought all of his bust-baggage to Pittsburgh and immediately impressed with an .866 OPS in his first 15 games as a Bucco.

But as the Bucs struggled down the stretch so did Snider.  Granted, we are looking at numbers that were small in sample size, but also small in production–.553 OPS–no homers–plenty of strikeouts against both southpaws and righties.   He was rested against most southpaws and made a total of just 42 plate appearances in September-going down on strikes in 15 of those while the walks practically disappeared.

The guy who turns 25 in a couple days, seemed to solve his struggles against southpaws, but suddenly couldn’t hit right-handers.  Snider remains a puzzle.

Was it the hamstring/groin injury that sapped his power, or is it simply the fact that Travis Snider will never be as amazing as so many people once thought?   Or can Snider simply stay healthy enough to even be average in the big leagues?

The Pirates seem to have penciled in Snider as the player with the advantage on landing the right field job heading into camp.  Time will tell if it’s the right decision, but at least there is Jose Tabata waiting (far) in the wings–a Jose Tabata who is certain to be in ‘the best shape of his life.’  Or Alex Presley.  Or insert your favorite name here.

PREDICTION:  Snider is a lock to make the team and will be the Pittsburgh Pirates opening day starter in right field.

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A capsule of Snider in the minors:

Snider hit eleven homers, twelve doubles walked thirty times and struckout 47 his first year in rookie ball.

In 2007, he tore up Low-A ball with 35 doubles, seven triples, and 16 bombs driving in 93 runs.  Snikder walked 49 times and struckout 129 times in 517 plate appearances.

In 2008 Snider was fast tracked,  he made 66 plate appearances in High-A ball chalking up 17 hits with five doubles and four bombs.

The jump to Double-A was made where he tallied 423 plate appearances blasting 17 bombs and 21 doubles although he struckout 116 times while walking 52.

In Triple-A he made 70 plate appearances knocking five doubles and two bombs while striking out 16 times and walking just four.  When he got the call to the bigs, the Blue Jays gave him 80 plate appearances and he had 22 hits with six doubles and two bombs.

In 2009, Snider made 204 plate appearances in Triple-A with 13 doubles, one triple and 14 bombs.  He struckout 47 times and walked 28.

For the Blue Jays, Snider earned 276 plate appearances with 14 doubles, one triple and nine bombs.  He struckout 78 times and walked 29.

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