Do You Believe in Travis Snider?

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Travis Snider, the first of six Pittsburgh Pirates salary arbitration eligible players, signed a one-year $1.2 million dollar deal according to MLB sources.  Snider suffered through a horrid season hitting just .215 with a .614 OPS.

Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Gaby Sanchez, Mark Melancon and Vin Mazzaro will trade numbers with the team today unless some of the players can reach deals.

Snider was in his first year of arbitration and will be locked in a competition for the right-field job.  Many feel it could be a few months job.  Gregory Polanco is on the way and it’s hard to see Jose Tabata or Snider stopping the train.  Other players expected to be in on the action are Jaff Decker, Andrew Lambo, and Chris Dickerson.

What the Pirates would love to see is both players reach the potential that each have flashed, but injuries have always held each of them back.

Baseball Prospectus called Travis Snider a breakout candidate today

 

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.

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 back in 2012. It was a game against the Mets that meant little to most people.

Unfortunately outside of a few key pinch hit homers in 2013, it’s one of the few Snider highlights in his Pirates career.

We get the feeling that the big beef lover has something to prove in 2014. 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.

Everybody in Pittsburgh knows this fact.

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 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 run of 2012, 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 seemed to solve his struggles against southpaws, but suddenly couldn’t hit right-handers. Snider remains a puzzle.

Was it the hamstring/groin injury in 2012 or the painful toe injury in 2013 that sapped the star from this once promising player?

Or is it simply the fact that Travis Snider will never be as amazing as so many people once thought? Or can Snider simply not stay healthy enough to even be average in the big leagues?  It’s hard to have confidence, and impossible to have success when you’re never on the field.

We will find out in a few weeks, but I will believe it when I see it.

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Coming into spring training last season BP saw the right fielder as a breakout candidate.  Hudson Belinsky wrote the article looking at nine breakout candidates. Here it is.

Hudson Belinsky’s 2013 Breakout Candidates

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