Alex Presley is an interesting player to watch in 2012. With 2/3 of the outfield already locked in, Presley is still a question mark. First of all, Presley SHOULD be the opening day left fielder. With only a little over a half season under his belt, he has shown that he is deserving of a chance to prove himself over the course of a full season. He made his debut in 2010, and came back up in July 2011, providing a spark at the top of the lineup. He hit .298 and had 6 triples last year, clearly proving that he can hit major league pitching. With a 1-2-3 combination of Presley-Tabata-McCutchen, the Bucs have a ton of speed at the top of the lineup. This will leave Walker, or whoever is in the cleanup spot, ample opportunities to drive in some runs.
That’s a great plan for the first 4 or so months of the season, but the problem with Presley will be once we get to August and September. Regardless of whether or not the Pirates are contending, Starling Marte will be looming in the shadows of the major leagues, and will probably make his debut sometime in August, providing he does well at AAA Indy. Obviously Cutch and Tabata’s starting spots will be secure, but Presley’s may not be if he doesn’t produce. Alex has to be aware of this, which leads some people to believe that he will be really trying to put up some numbers. There is no reason to assume that Presley’s 2011 numbers were a fluke, and that he can’t repeat or even improve on them in 2012. A .300 batting average with a .340 OBP isn’t too much to expect from Presley, with a good amount of triples too. As he learns more about major league pitchers and makes more adjustments, he will produce more at the plate and also steal more bases. You can definitely expect big things from one of the baby-faced Bucs this year. And also remember, if Marte comes up and impresses people, having 4 outfielders that can hit, field, and run very well should be the least of the Pirates’ worries.
Another note – Presley will be making a uniform number change, he’ll go from #44 to #7 in 2012.