Player Background

Snider was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft out of high school. He put up impressive power numbers in his first two years of professional ball, leading to promotions to Double-A, Triple-A, and the big leagues as 20-year-old in 2008 and jumping up to no. 5 on our prospect rankings in 2009. He made the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster in 2009 but was used in a platoon role and demoted back to Triple-A that May. The promising young slugger was recalled in August later that year but continued to struggle with his contact rates, posting a 31.5 percent strikeout rate the rest of the way. As a 21-year-old in 2010, Snider’s inconsistency surfaced again, as he slashed an abysmal .155/.277.338 over the first month of the season, but began turning things around in May (.378/.404/.711) before a wrist injury late that month sidelined him for the next 53 games. Upon his return from the DL, Snider was unable to recapture his hitting stroke and the contact rate concerns continued, as the outfielder posted a 50-to-7 K:BB ratio to finish out the season with Toronto. Snider then spent the next two seasons shuttling back and forth between the minors and Toronto before being dealt to the Pirates at the deadline in 2012. Following a disappointing 2013 campaign with Pittsburgh, Snider was a key contributor in the Pirates lineup in 2014 and put up his best statistical season since 2010. An offseason trade landed Snider back in the AL East where he will look to fill the Orioles’ hole in right field.

What Went Right in 2014

After a dismal start to the season where he saw his playing time diminish, Snider saw regular action after the All-Star break and was a key part of the Pirates second half surge in their pursuit to claim their second post-season berth in as many years. With injuries in the second half to Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, and combined with Gregory Polanco’s drop in production, Clint Hurdle called upon Snider to see regular time in the Pirates outfield in late July. In his first five games after being inserted back into an everyday role, Snider responded by going 7-for-15 with three homers, eight runs scored, and seven RBI. He continued to produce the rest of the way, slashing .288/.356/.524 and smacking nine of his 13 long balls.

What Went Wrong in 2014

Snider opened the season as the Pirates primary right fielder, but struggled mightily out of the gate. After an April that saw Snider post a .227/.301/.364 slash line, his May was even worse and Snider’s AVG on June 4th was sitting just above the Mendoza line at a paltry .202. His playing time was cut drastically when Polanco was called up a week later to take over the everyday RF duties.

What to Expect in 2015

The table below reflects what PECOTA expects from Snider in 2015:

















PECOTA is expecting a bump in playing time, but numbers right around his career averages in AVG and OPS. I am a little more optimistic about Snider’s production in 2015 for a few reasons. It’s not because of the move from PNC Park to Camden Yards, as Snider was quite productive in PNC (.291/.360/.454 slash line over 350 AB) but more a result of the changes in Snider’s plate discipline we saw last year. He improved his walk rates in 2014, and his 18.7 K% was the lowest of his career and well below his career 25 percent clip. His line-drive rate jumped to 26 percent, the highest of his career, and his 11.4 percent HR:FB ratio and .174 ISO were his highest since 2010, when he slugged 14 home runs in only 82 games. Also, while admittedly it was a small sample size, the lefty had success off southpaws a season ago to the tune of a .381/.435/.619 mark in 47 plate appearances. If he can continue that trend, he should be given more opportunities to remain in the lineup versus left-handed starters.

Snider’s current NFBC ADP is 402, which is 95th among outfielders, and he was pick no. 246 in the LABR Mixed League Draft. Both draft positions could be strong value plays if Snider can prove his 2014 second half was no fluke. A 15-20 HR season seems like a distinct possibility if he can remain healthy.

The Great Beyond

The early signs this spring point to Snider as being the everyday right fielder for the Orioles in 2015. While Snider is certainly not the best defender in right field, he is an upgrade over Delmon Young and although David Lough is a better glove man, he does not bring the pop to the line-up that the newly acquired Snider does. Yes, Snider has been used as a platoon player for most of his time in the majors, but his career lines are nearly identical vs. RHP and LHP. He will most likely still get the occasional day off against a southpaw, but his improvement against LHP a season ago should lead to more chances against them in 2015. Snider is still under team control for two years, and his 2014 second-half resurgence brings hope to Baltimore that the former top prospect still has time to fulfill some of his promise. He certainly wouldn't be the first hitter to figure things out at age 27.

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