Is anyone else out there tired of the Braves not having a true lead-off hitter. Do they just not exist? No, wait, they do- -I’ve seem them on other teams.
I wish we could manufacture a run. Like draw a walk, steal second, sac bunt the guy to 3rd, and then drive him in with a sac fly. But with a runner on third and less than 2 outs- -our hitters are not looking to drive the ball to the outfield. They are content to hit slow rollers to the 3rd baseman.
And finally, does it seem like our defense is less fundamentally sound than others? We don’t seem to hit the cut-off man, catch the ball (Mac at home), etc. Just seem generally sloppy. I can’t figure out if that is us, or just generally in MLB.
I was glad we took the series against the Padres, and sure wish we hadn’t blown the game a week ago against the Giants. 4-2 sounds a lot better than 3-3. But winning last night after getting pants a few nights ago was a nice response.
Martin Prado (Braves) — Projected pace: .469 batting average, 304 hits, 81 doubles, 142 runs, .541 on base percentage, .594 slugging percentage
RATING: REAL DEAL
It’s safe to guess that Prado isn’t going to hit .469 all season, or average nearly two hits a night. But if you’ve been paying attention, it would be hard to conclude he’s not going to be an offensive force, because this is no two-week phenomenon. Since the Braves made Prado their regular second baseman at the end of June last year, the only NL hitters with a higher batting average and on-base percentage than he’s had (.331/.380) are Hanley Ramirez, Todd Helton and Pujols. Heard of them?
“He’s made himself a very good player,” said one scout. “He’s a player who was considered a utility guy when he first came up. But he’s used an intelligent approach to hitting to make himself a very productive player on a good team. He’s following the same path, for me, as Placido Polanco.”
Kelly Johnson (Diamondbacks) — Projected pace: .360 average, 61 home runs, 142 runs, 122 extra-base hits, .467 OBP, .840 SLG
RATING: HUNG JURY
We can’t rave about Prado without examining the guy who preceded him at second base with the Braves. And Johnson, too, is off to a great start, looking — in the words of one scout — “rejuvenated” by his escape from Atlanta. But not everyone is sold.
For every scout who loves his tools, you can find one who has reservations about his ability to apply them consistently. For every scout who tells you “He has an excellent eye, and the ballpark [in Arizona] fits him perfectly,” you can find one who calls him too “defensively challenged.”
“I don’t see him as a 500-at-bat regular,” said one scout, emphatically. “For me, I think he just projects as a productive major league role-player.”