2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Hitting Preview

By Jack Jones

The Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a fast start in 2011, but faded down the stretch to finish fourth in the division. While this team could be tough if they put two halves of the season together, you probably won't see them on the top of too many gurus World Series predictions.

Projected Batting Order

Rod Barajas (Catcher) - At the age of 36, the vet Barajas will not be well placed to provide high averages or drive in a large amount of runs; what he supplies the Pirates is equilibrium behind the plate. Barajas can also offer some nice power at the base of the order. He hit 16 homers and drove in 47 runs in just 98 games with the Dodgers last year.

Garrett Jones (First Base) - The Pirates were hoping they could bring back Derrek Lee, whom they traded for at midseason last year, but he needed to play for a contender. That opened up an opportunity for Jones to get the spot. In 148 games with the Pirates last year, usually in right field, Jones hit.243 with 16 home runs and 58 RBI.

Neil Hiker (Second Base) - The year 2011 was not a really good one for the second-year man. He suffered the second year slump and played a bit worse than he did in his rookie year. He batted .296 with 12 home runs and 66 RBI in 110 games in 2010, but batted just .273 with 12 home runs and 66 RBI in 159 games in 2011. The hometown kid will turn just 26 in September, so he will still recover in 2012.

Clint Barmes (Shortstop) - Barmes ' worth to Pittsburgh is more on the what he can do in the field than on offense. The 32-year-old veteran has not batted better than .245 during the past 3 years. He did hit 23 home runs with Colorado in 2009, but he ended up with just 12 home runs and 39 RBI with Houston last season.

Pedro Alvarez (3rd Base) - A rather good rookie season in 2010, when he hit 16 homers and drove in 64 runs in 95 games, had everybody humming about his potential. But an intensely disappointing 2011 sent him crashing back down to Earth. Now he should prove that his numbers of .191 with 4 homers and 19 RBI in 74 games last year was a fluke, or else he would just lose his job to someone more deserving.

Alex Presley (Left Field) - Pittsburgh is hoping that Presley can improve off his provoking showing in 52 games last season, when he batted .298 with 4 home runs, 20 RBI and 9 steals. It looks as if he is going to take over full time in left field, but if the 26-year-old lefty doesn't perform, then we'd see more of Nate McLouth.

Andrew McCutchen (Center Field) - McCutchen has demonstrated that he is the franchise player for Pittsburgh after putting All-Star stats in 2011.McCutchen batted .259 with 23 home runs, 89 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He probably did struggle a bit, batting just .216 in the second half. McCutchen must continue to grow into an elect player if Pittsburgh wishes to ultimately say in the Central.

Jose Tabata (Right Field) - In spite of his battles with the injury bug, the Pirates didn't hesitate in extending Tabata with a rewarding six-year contract. The 23-year-old has hit .284 in 193 big league games. After re-signing him, the Pirates forecast a massive jump in production after Tabata hit just 4 homers with 21 RBI in 91 games last season.

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