Prohibitively, the addition of Marlon Byrd makes the Pittsburgh Pirates a better baseball team. Had Byrd been on the Pirates’ roster all season, he’d essentially be the third-best hitter on the team.
And, the Pirates may own three or four extra wins if he started 2013 in Pittsburgh with his WAR of 3.5. In contrast, the production received from right field this season from the likes of Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Travis Snider, and the rest of whoever has played there, has hovered around a WAR of 0.
Now, the Pirates have Marlon Byrd and his .285/.330/.518 triple-slash served with a side of 21 home runs. In addition, Starling Marte will return to the lineup hopefully sometime in September giving the Pirates an outfield of Marte-Andrew McCutchen-Byrd, from left to right.
“We’ll have to look to re-invent the lineup a little bit,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I imagine we’re going to put a better lineup out, we’re better team than we were before and Byrd is gonna get an opportunity to swing that bat and make a difference for us, I can tell you that right now.”
In Marte’s absence, Tabata has been the primary resident of Hurdle’s lead-off spot and has responded with one of his best months of the season. In August, Tabata is hitting .309/.373/.485 with seven runs, two home runs, four doubles, and a triple.
“He’s done a pretty solid job leading off for us in Marte’s absence,” Hurdle said. “I’ve gotta be mindful of that and he knows the spark he can create up there.”
“It’s a different spark than Marte,” Hurdle said. “We don’t have anyone who can re-create that spark. But we need someone who can get on base, show up with the bat when that lineup does turnover and there’s opportunities to drive in runs.”
Now, Hurdle may face challenges himself when it comes to finding at-bats for Tabata which is a challenge he claims to be happy to have in front of him.
Realistically, though, Tabata becomes the Pirates’ fourth outfielder upon Marte’s return. He likely won’t platoon much with any of the corner outfielders as Marte and Byrd possess numbers much better than Tabata’s save for the on-base category. Besides the occasional day of rest for any one of Byrd/Marte/McCutchen and pinch-hitting, there won’t be too much
- Byrd: .285/.330/.518
- Marte: .282/.343/.443
- Tabata: .269/.342/.402
But on the bright side, the bench does become stronger with the presence of Tabata on it. Tabata owns an OPS+ of 110 this season, and in an upgrade to an area the Pirates have been weak at all season.
- J-Hay leads off tonight
While Tabata has performed well leading off lately, he will not do so tonight against left-handed starter Tom Gorzelanny, with Hurdle citing his numbers in comparison to those of Josh Harrison who will lead off tonight. Tabata bats between Russell Martin and Charlie Morton in the eight-hole.
“On-base percentage and the overall numbers against left-handed pitching,” Hurdle said. “They’re significantly different.”
They sure are.
- Harrison v. LHP: .444/.444/.815
- Tabata v. LHP: .268/.293/.464
Harrison’s numbers come in just 27 plate appearances, but he’s murdering lefties at the moment so it looks like Hurdle is keen to just let him ride this little hot spell out.
- Josh Harrison 3B
- Jordy Mercer SS
- Andrew McCutchen CF
- Marlon Byrd RF
- Pedro Alvarez 3B
- Gaby Sanchez 1B
- Russell Martin C
- Jose Tabata LF
- Charlie Morton P
- Nori Aoki RF
- Jean Segura SS
- Jonathan Lucroy C
- Aramis Ramirez 3B
- Carlos Gomez CF
- Caleb Gindl LF
- Scooter Gennett 2B
- Juan Francisco 1B
- Tom Gorzelanny P