It looks like we can add Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata to the ever-growing pool of players “in the best shape of their life.”
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that Tabata “has bulked up noticeably” during the offseason “and it’s muscle, not fat.”
One teammate called Tabata “a beast” after getting a look at him during a recent workout, to which Tabata responded: “Yeah, I’m bigger. I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs.”
Adding more power is certainly a good idea for Tabata, who went deep just four times in 441 plate appearances as a rookie after homering a total of 29 times in 2,088 plate appearances as a minor leaguer. In fact, lack of power development is perhaps the main reason why his prospect stock dipped in recent years.
Of course, there’s also danger in a young player losing athleticism or altering his hitting mechanics, and the 22-year-old seems aware of those risks: “It’s a good feeling, but I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.