Jose Tabata will be entering his fourth season as a major leaguer in 2013, but nothing is guaranteed for him this year. He has officially made the Opening Day roster, beating out Alex Presley as the fourth outfielder. This means that Tabata’s playing time and role will be dependent on Garrett Jones, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider, Starling Marte, and how Clint Hurdle uses the players that he’s given. A few situations could unfold within the first month of the season:
- Jones and Sanchez both come out of the gate swinging and get off to a hot start. That makes them the starting right fielder and first baseman, respectively, and Tabata becomes the right-handed option off the bench. Clint Hurdle showed last year that he loves to pull double switches and make defensive substitutions late in games, so Jose will probably get most of his playing time late in games as the right fielder. This situation seems ideal for a few reasons. First, it creates a somewhat consistent and productive lineup, unlike last April when the starting eight was constantly shuffled. Most importantly, this eliminates any chance of an unproductive platoon between Jones/Sanchez and Tabata/Snider. No platoons is much better than two.
- Another possible outcome is that either Jones or Sanchez have a poor first month at the plate and some sort of platoon role develops. Garrett could start at first with Gaby becoming the backup, while still getting ABs against lefties. Snider and/or Tabata then take over right field; the problem here is that no one knows what to expect from either of them. Snider didn’t have much time to prove himself as an everyday player and has shown that he’s prone to injury. Tabata’s production has dropped off since a decent year in 2010, and he’s proven to be a bonehead at times.
- Worst case scenario would entail Starling Marte, who has left field locked up at this point, getting hurt or becoming a liability at the plate. Both Tabata and Snider would then have to start, which could be chaos. But barring injury, Marte will most likely get every chance possible to show what he can do in the outfield and as a hitter.
Here are Tabata’s offensive projections for 2013:
No matter which role Jose Tabata ends up in, it’s reasonable to assume that 2013 will be his last chance to make it with the Bucs. He’s shown potential, but has also been very unproductive for the last two seasons. The bottom line: acquiring Travis Snider and Jerry Sands has created a logjam of mediocrity in right field, and Jose will really have to take advantage of every opportunity he gets.
What are you expecting from Tabata this year? Success? Failure? Let us know.