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Jose Tabata “worked out in the gym every day this winter”

Jan 13, 2011, 10:21 AM EDT

Neil Walker, Jose Tabata

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.”

  1. dreamkafka - Jan 13, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Noticeably bulked up? There goes his chance at the Hall of Fame…

    • aarcraft - Jan 13, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      Great minds think alike. And so do we.

      • Alex K - Jan 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        I thought the same thing.

  2. aarcraft - Jan 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Uh oh. I was under the impression that the only conceivable way for a baseball player to add muscle was through steroids. In 20 years, when the Hall of Fame voters look at his rookie year photos and his in his prime photos, they won’t like what they see.

    • florida76 - Jan 13, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Sarcasm aside, Jose Tabata had an impressive debut for the Bucs last season, despite not playing the entire season. That Xavier Nady deal with the Yankees turned out well for the Pirates.

  3. Utley's Hair - Jan 13, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    whisperwhisperwhisper…What was he doing to his body at the gym?…whisperwhisperwhisper

  4. JBerardi - Jan 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    We all know what a crock most of these “Best shape of his life” stories are, but in Taba’s case, I’m inclined to believe it. He’s right at the age where an athlete can and often does start adding serious bulk and strength. Meanwhile, here’s two batting lines. One is Robinson Cano’s rookie year (age 22), and one is Tabata’s (age 21). Can you guess which is which? Well, you probably can, but I think it’s still worth a look:

    .299/.346/.400

    .297/.320/.458

    In the New Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James estimates that any player who can at least tread water in the majors by their age-22 season has something like a 1-in-5 chance of making the HOF. I think Tabata has a world of potential, was a very shrewd acquisition by the Pirates, and he’s got a real chance to a pillar of their next good team.

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