Share This Page

Stats Corner: Status quo in right field hurts Pirates' playoff chances

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Pirates are fading fast in the NL Central standings, entering play Saturday 9 12 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Their odds of making the playoffs, per Fangraphs, have dwindled to 12 percent.

The right field tandem of Jose Tabata and Travis Snider — both barely slugging .300 and playing clunky defense — is a major reason for the Bucs' wretched start. Top prospect Gregory Polanco, meanwhile, is going Godzilla on the Triple-A International League (slugging .631) and possesses a center fielder's range and base-running prowess.

Promoting Polanco to the majors now would ultimately lead to bigger pay days during his arbitration-eligible seasons, and the 22-year-old has all of 122 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. But while the Pirates must consider Polanco's long-term cost and development, they must also confront a more pressing concern: every day he remains in the minors, their odds of returning to the postseason diminish.

The Pirates rank 12th in the majors in right field Wins Above Replacement, which measures a player's offensive, defensive, and base running value compared to a Triple-A-caliber talent. Only the Cardinals, Cubs and Mets have received less production from the position once manned by Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner and Dave Parker.

Not all right in right

Team WAR from RF

Cubs -0.9

Cardinals -0.8

Mets -0.4

Pirates -0.3

Diamondbacks -0.3

Tabata and Snider likely will remain drags on the Pirates' playoff hopes, according to the Oliver projection system on Fangraphs. Tabata is projected for 1.2 WAR during the rest of the season if he gets regular playing time, and Snider is forecast as replacement-level (zero WAR). Polanco? He's projected to add 4.2 WAR — if he gets the chance.

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.