The Pirates biggest need as the trade deadline approaches is a right fielder. While other positions could stand to be improved, right field has been a revolving door for the Pirates this year; the Pirates have had starts from Garrett Jones, Travis Snider, Brandon Inge, Jose Tabata, and even Russell Martin. To say that there’s no established starter at that position would be a massive understatement. Names such as Giancarlo Stanton, Nate Schierholtz and Alex Rios have been thrown around as trade targets, and some people even want Andrew Lambo to be called up for an opportunity to take the job… but what about Jose Tabata?
While he’s not a big-time threat as a power bat, Tabata has posted some respectable numbers this year, albeit in a limited sample size. On the season, he’s hitting .293/.351/.431, with two home runs and eleven RBI over forty-seven games. Over the last four weeks, Tabata is hitting .333/.378/.476. He’s shown an ability to cover right field well since getting called up as well, and has always displayed a strong arm.
The main knocks on Tabata right now are that he’s injury prone, and hasn’t hit very well against lefties. This year against left-handed pitching, he’s hitting .237/.237/.395, which is not something the Pirates can have him continue doing if they want to start him everyday. The Pirates as a team have a serious problem hitting lefties, and Tabata hasn’t contributed to the solution to this point. Over the course of his career, Tabata has hit .257 against left-handed pitching, hardly a number that’s going to strike fear into opposing southpaws.
As far as his troubles with injuries, that’s something you never really know about. It’s unfortunate, but injuries aren’t something that are really predictable. One can hope and pray he stays healthy, but we’ll never know for sure. Can the Pirates trust Jose Tabata to be their everyday right fielder? Should they platoon him with someone like Andrew Lambo, or go out and get a guy like Nate Schierholtz or Alex Rios?
Whatever the Pirates end up doing is largely dependent on how well Tabata plays over the next couple of weeks. Tabata knows that his job is at stake, and hopefully he’ll play like it. If he does, he just might be the right guy for the Pirates to roll with in right field to finish the season. If not, we can always have a giggle at his neck tattoo.