If you were to make a list of all the Pirates players that everyone loves to hate the most these days, the list would include players such as Garrett Jones, Clint Barmes, and Gaby Sanchez. For all the vitriol they receive, none of them seems to be hated quite as much as Jose Tabata. Tabata is an easy target, after all, he’s injury prone, he’s overpaid, and he has what might be the world’s dumbest tattoo on his neck.
Like him or not, this much is clear: Jose Tabata is getting the job done at the plate this year. He’s batting .269/.342/.403 over the course of the season, and since the Pirates decided to stand pat at the July 31st trading deadline, he’s hitting .308/.375/.492. Recognizing that’s a small sample size (only seventy-three plate appearances), the greater whole of this season has been marked by solid production from Tabata. Maybe Neal Huntington actually knew what he was doing by not going out and buying a right fielder to shore up a bad position. This season stands in sharp contrast to Tabata’s 2012 campaign, where he batted only .243 on the season, while battling injuries, and looking generally sluggish all season.
It’s tough to defend that campaign, but that’s not the goal here. Jose Tabata is producing this year, and has shown no signs of the wheels completely falling off for the rest of this season. Once Starling Marte returns from his hand injury, an outfield featuring Marte (a venerable stud in left field), McCutchen (MVP of the N.L.), and Tabata would be a solid combination to work with going forward, as the Pirates push towards their first winning season in two decades, and hopefully a berth in the playoffs.
Will this be a long-term sustainable option for the Pirates starting right fielder? Absolutely not, the long-term plan is Gregory Polanco, and when he’s ready, it’s going to be fantastic. But in the mean time, Jose Tabata is getting it done, and will continue to do so for the rest of this season.