Bill James 2013 Projections: Pirates Hitters

Bill James’ first batch of projections for the 2013 season were recently released and can be found on the player pages at FanGraphs. Here’s a look at some of the Pirates hitters are projected to perform next year:

Alex Presley
326 8 43 32 11 .288 .343 .447
Andrew McCutchen
675 24 101 81 22 .286 .372 .483
Clint Barmes
441 9 42 43 2 .233 .286 .353
Gaby Sanchez
394 11 44 49 3 .263 .343 .418
Garrett Jones
484 20 57 69 4 .254 .315 .454
Jose Tabata
353 3 47 26 12 .278 .345 .377
Michael McKenry
363 11 35 41 1 .239 .316 .404
Neil Walker
647 17 77 88 9 .275 .337 .435
Pedro Alvarez
597 29 70 91 2 .257 .336 .481
Starling Marte
551 15 82 64 31 .297 .336 .479
Travis Snider
312 11 43 45 5 .278 .345 .468

A few quick notes:

– James has Alex Presley bouncing back with a .288 average after a sophomore slump campaign in which he hit just .237 and traveled to Triple-A Indianapolis a couple of times.

Andrew McCutchen is projected to regress a bit after his MVP-caliber year. A .286 average with 24 homers would be nice, but not as stellar as his .327 avg/31 homers in 2012.

Clint Barmes is expected to do pretty much the same thing at the plate as he did last season.

Gaby Sanchez is pretty “meh” at .263 batting average with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Another player the Bucs picked up at July’s deadline, Travis Snider, is in the same boat – .278 average with 11 HR and 43 RBI.

– James still projects Garrett Jones to put up decent power, but expects a 20 point drop off in batting average (.274 to .254).

Jose Tabata will look to continue his disappointing career. Another 3 homer year with just 12 stolen bases; at least his average is projected to jump up to .278.

Michael McKenry is expected to have a pretty similar season. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a larger role in 2013.

Neil Walker is projected to have a nice season. We’ll take a .275 average and 17 homers any day from a starting second baseman.

– James projects Pedro Alvarez to keep improving upon his solid season in 2012. Another season with about 30 homers and somewhere around 90 RBI would be great from Pedro.

– Last but not least, Starling Marte is expected to have a big time season. A .297 average with 15 home runs and 31 stolen bases would be tremendous for Starling. It’s hard to predict his performance since he’s unproven and appeared in just 47 games, but it still gets us excited to think about the potential he has.

Sometime within the next week or so, we’ll take a look Bill James’ predictions for the Pirates pitchers.

Go Bucs


Season in Pictures: May 2012

May 2nd, 2012
A.J. Burnett walks off the mound after allowing 12 runs in just 2.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Bucs got rocked, 12-3, at Busch Stadium.

May 8th, 2012
Rod Barajas flashes the Zoltan after hitting a walk-off homer to lift the Pirates over the Nationals, 5-4.

May 19th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison celebrate one of Cutch’s two bombs in Detroit. The Pirates beat the Tigers in a Saturday matinée by the score of 4-3.

May 21st, 2012
Neil Walker slides home safely as the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to give the Pirates a 5-4 victory.

May 26th, 2012
Matt Hague‘s walk-off hit-by-pitch lifts the Bucs over the Cubs, 3-2, in front of a Saturday night sellout crowd.

May 28th, 2012
Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata celebrate after beating the Reds on Memorial Day. It was the Pirates fourth consecutive win and put them at the .500 mark.

Tabata turning it around at Indy

On July 24th, Indianapolis broadcaster Will Flemming said the following about outfielder Jose Tabata:

“Not only has he not been not sharp offensively, but his effort on defense at times has been totally appalling. Tabata has cost the Indians games and runs with just a complete lack of effort, getting after baseballs and with throws.”

Since then, Tabata has been raking at the Triple-A level. In nine games from July 25 to August 4, he’s hit .455 (15 for 33) with seven runs batted in. He was 4 for 6 with four RBI on Thursday night. On Saturday, he went 3 for 6 with two RBI.

In 28 games for the Indians this season, Tabata is hitting .324 (35 for 108) with five doubles, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. His batting average was hovering in the mid-.200’s after his demotion, but it’s drastically climbed over the last week. He’s hitting .342 vs. LHP, and .297 vs. RHP.

He was sent to Triple-A on July 3rd. At the MLB level this year, he hit just .230 in 72 games. Tabata, who signed a long-term deal in August of 2011, will make $1 million next season. Assuming he’s 23 (or is he older?), Tabata is an important piece of the organization.

Even with success at Indy, he may not be granted a promotion for a while. There could still be question about his focus and effort; there’s only so much you can tell from a box score. The stats will show how he’s performed at the plate, but there are no signs of his hustle, defense, etc. The Pirates outfield seems pretty set right now. Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Travis Snider seem to have the starting roles locked up; Alex Presley is the bench option. Garrett Jones can also play a corner outfield position. Josh Harrison has played a few games in right field.

If he comes back to Pittsburgh this season, there’s a decent chance it will be in September when the rosters expand. There’s really no spot for him right now, unless someone goes down with injury. If they do consider promoting him, hopefully he’ll be completely out of the funk he was in before his demotion. A spot may be open for him on September 1st if he can keep tearing it up at Indy.

Parallels between Alex Presley and Chris Duffy

Alex Presley has been a disappointment so far in 2012, as he’s hit for just a .230 batting average and .270 on-base percentage. It’s been a “sophomore slump” for Presley, as he provided a spark in his rookie year of 2011. His struggles have been reminiscent of a former Pirate, Chris Duffy.

On the surface, there are quite a few similarities between the two players. They were both eighth round draft picks. They’re both outfielders whose games revolve around speed. Their rookie seasons came at age 25. They both stand 5 foot, 10 inches tall, and weigh 185 lbs. Their stature is the same, their game is the same, and their rookie/sophomore season production seems the same, too. Here’s a look:

First, they’re similar players at the minor league level. In Duffy’s MiLB days, he was a .292 hitter with a .773 OPS. On the other hand, Presley hit .291 with a .778 OPS.

Next, here’s how Duffy produced in his first and second MLB seasons:

2005 39 .341 .385 .814
2006 84 .255 .317 .654

And here’s how Presley has fared in his first two years:

2011 52 .298 .339 .804
2012 67 .230 .270 .636

Duffy performed at a higher rate in his rookie season than Presley, but played in 13 fewer games. Their batting averages both drastically fell, and their on-base percentages dipped almost identically. Duffy’s OBP fell 68 points; Presley’s OBP has fallen 69 points. Their decline in OPS is similar as well (Duffy -160, Presley -168).

The biggest concern, especially for a leadoff hitter, is the decreased on-base percentage. Getting the leadoff man on-base changes the entire dynamic of an inning. Despite the huge drop in Duffy’s OBP from ’05 to ’06, he still has Presley beat by 47 points (.317 vs. .270).

Among all NL outfielders, Presley is ranked 93rd in OBP. If he was a qualifier, he’d be dead last by 19 points. One of the Pirates trade targets, Shane Victorino, hasn’t been much better, and has the fifth-lowest on-base percentage among qualifiers. His .316 OBP is nearly identical to Chris Duffy’s .317 in 2006. To Duffy’s credit, he used his speed to his advantage and was an impressive 26 for 27 on stolen bases attempts in 2006. Victorino, also known as the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”, can use his speed as well. In 96 games, he’s stolen 24 bases and has been thrown out three times. Presley is 9 for 13 this year in steal attempts.

As Rum Bunter pointed out this morning, Presley’s numbers have been awfully similar to those of Jose Tabata, who is currently in the minors. Tabata has played five more games at the MLB level, but they have identical .230 batting averages and .636 OPS. It’s also noted how they’ve performed in the minor leagues this season. Presley, who made a trip to Indianapolis in May, played well at the Triple-A level. However, Tabata has really struggled since his demotion.

It’s tough seeing Presley struggle after he showed a lot of promise last season. The Pirates gave him the opportunity but he hasn’t performed up to par. While the numbers are most likely a pure coincidence, there are definitely some parallels between Chris Duffy and Alex Presley. Duffy didn’t last long with the Bucs, but that doesn’t mean Presley can’t stick around. However, his playing time could take a hit if the Pirates decide to upgrade at the trade deadline, which is now just a week away. He’s running out of time to show that he can be a legit leadoff hitter in the majors.

Tabata Sent to AAA

The Pirates have sent outfielder Jose Tabata to Triple-A Indianapolis and have recalled Gorkys Hernandez. The Pirates have been upset with his play as of late and finally sent him down to Indy to regain his footing. Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib spoke to a “high-ranking Pirates official” yesterday and it was discussed that “Jose Tabata had better get his act together immediately or he’s headed for the minors. The team is — and should be — livid with his lackluster effort.”

Tabata hit .230/.295/.341 with 3 HR and 11 RBI in 72 games. As of late, he’s had trouble squaring up the ball and has taken poor routes to fly balls, which can be worked on at Triple-A.

Hernandez appeared in nine games for the Pirates this season, after being called up on May 18th and sent down on June 5th. Gorkys was 2 for 10 at the plate with two runs batted in. He started just one game- a 3-1 loss to the Mets on May 23rd in which he went 0 for 4. He was used mostly as a defensive replacement, and will likely do the same during this stint.

There was talk that Starling Marte could be brought up for Tabata, but that was not the case. Kovacevic noted that the official spoke of how “it will not be long before Starling Marte is in Pittsburgh.” The official said, “It’s time.” This got many fans pumped up and ready for him to come up to the big leagues. Starling even played right field for Indianapolis last night, since he will likely start at a corner spot when he is recalled. Marte also enjoyed his eighth consecutive multi-hit game on Monday night. Still, the Pirates want him to get some more action at Triple-A before bringing him up.