Position: Second in NL East; wild card leader by 6 ½ games
X-Factor: Martin Prado
Maybe the most consistent hitter in baseball the past three seasons, Prado is having his worst year, down to .260 with a terrible .307 OBP. Unlike with Jason Heyward, whom manager Fredi Gonzalez has benched for not hitting, Prado continues to bat second for the Braves. This is a problem if he doesn’t hit — not only is his low OBP crippling the offense in the most important spot in the order, but as a right-handed groundball hitter, he’s a huge double-play threat. Prado is fourth in MLB (min. 200 PA) in double-play rate, grounding into one every four chances he has. The Braves need the line-drive Prado back, or their already shaky offense could fall off the cliff.
#182 – Joe Simpson made a comment (though unconnected with his benching) that, him being out of position at second base to catch the throwdown by David Ross might have been attributed to Gonzales’ mind being on his previous AB, where I believe he popup up in a bases loaded situation.
…and I agree with Fredie on that move. If a guy wants to take his defensive play down with his offense, let him think about it on the bench. Besides, we all know the game has been finding Alex in those situations all year long. I say, give Wilson a shot.
And just to answer a bit of the grief I took over a post earlier (from the same article – see the last line):
Neither Gonzalez nor Jones want the veteran to change his approach at the plate. In other words, don’t expect any bunts. It will also be important that Jones not take hittable pitches should Bourn get on base, in an effort to allow him to steal. That became an issue in the first few games after the Braves acquired Bourn as Martin Prado passed on strikes.
Martin’s problem was he didn’t understand that you don’t have to completely change your approach just because of Bourn. Maybe now he can realize that in baseball, it all about driving the ball. All that cutsey stuff about a #2 hitter poking the ball through the right side of the field and taking 2 pitches is overrated. Instead of a runner on second and 1 out, how about runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs.