Look, I understand that Jose Tabata’s only played in four big league games and that no one should draw any conclusions on a guy that’s just 5-for-16 in his big league career. We can say that the two doubles, two walks, and two stolen bases are nice, but it’s got to be said with the knowledge that it means pretty much nothing at this point.
That said, he’s been really fun to watch. His aggressive play on the basepaths from Saturday night still stands out in my head. If you missed the game, he singled into left center field and when Austin Jackson didn’t sprint right to the ball, he took second base. Then, he figured out Joel Zumaya’s move quickly and stole third with a lefty at the plate and a solid defensive catcher (Gerald Laird) behind it. After Walker singled Tabata in, Zumaya was forced to use a slide-step he was obviously not terribly comfortable with, but the Pirates couldn’t cash in because after McCutchen and Jones bat, the lineup is a vast wasteland.
Both plays were obviously risky at a juncture where the Pirates needed base runners, but they were both smart, calculated risks; Jackson fielding the single unfolded right in front of Tabata and he got to second easily. Zumaya wasn’t holding him closely and he knew he could get a huge jump. As a rookie in his third big league game with one of baseball’s better set-up guys on the mound, he took over the game with play that was not just aggressive, but calculated and smart. I’d probably call that steal of third something else if he got thrown out, no matter how big the jump, but for a rookie to have the balls to try that? I’m impressed.
Give the base running fiascoes of 2010 (Andy LaRoche running into two outs at third base and Lastings Milledge and Jeff Karstens somehow finding a way to keep a run from scoring when Karstens started at first and Milledge nearly tripled come right to mind, but I know there are many more examples), it was really refresing to see someone other than Andrew McCutchen use base running to put the Pirates back into a game. And as for Tabata, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I can’t explain it, but I’ve just got a good feeling about the kid.