Three under-the-radar suggestions for the LF/3B void. None are ideal, as Plan B’s are wont to be.
Jed Lowrie: It’s hard to get a read on the former Red Sox prospect, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career. But when healthy he’s shown flashes of becoming a solid major leaguer with developing power.
The switch-hitter clubbed a career-best 16 homers last season in 97 games (another career-high) with Houston, getting on base at a decent .331 clip. Lowrie will be 28 on Opening Day and is two years removed from free agency. He was awful against southpaws last year but has a .848 OPS vs. lefties for his career. At worst he could platoon with Francisco, making for a high-risk but potentially high-reward platoon.
Eric Young Jr.: He, too, has battled injuries but showed signs of becoming a top-of-the-order threat in 2012, batting .316 with a .377 OBP and 14 steals in 98 games. Forget about his Rockies teammate, Dexter Fowler; Colorado asked for Minor and Delgado in return.
David DeJesus: Unlike Lowrie and Young you know what you’re getting with DeJesus. Last year he hit .263 with a .350 OBP, 28 doubles, 8 triples and 9 HR, a shade below his career averages. DeJesus, 33, is the player we thought Melky Cabrera was when he came to Atlanta. The comparisons end there.
He’s due only $4.25 million next year with an affordable team option for 2014. He certainly qualifies as one of those “Caliparis” FW recently mentioned.
There was never a more consistent performer than Henry Aaron. He was the Bizarro Uggla.
Hank hit .306 vs. left-handed starters, .305 vs right-handed starters, .303 at home and .306 on the road — with slugging percentages above .500 in each situation.
For his career he never hit lower than .297 in a month. His first half OPS was .932, .007 better than his post-All-Star Break OPS.
His numbers fluctuated only slightly in clutch moments — for the better. Aaron hit .304, with a .968 OPS, with 2 outs and RISP. His OPS was .982 in “late and close” situations.
The Hammer dominated, no matter how you parse the stats. Hard throwers fared as badly as finesse pitchers. First inning, ninth inning, no matter.
Here’s my favorite stat: Aaron hit 38 or more homers 11 times but didn’t strike out 100 times once.
All this is old news, but it’s good to remind yourself that the best player in the modern era wore a Braves uniform.
The Braves of the 1970s had a peculiar habit of trading for players they once discarded. Pitcher Adrian Devine, for example, was traded to Texas in 1976 then reacquired the following winter. Two years later, he was traded back to Texas. Coming to Atlanta in that last deal were Doyle Alexander and Larvell Blanks, who had two tours apiece with the Braves.
Craig Robinson was acquired from the Phillies prior to the 1974 season and was immediately christened as the starting SS despite an undistinguished minor league career. Robinson, who finished April with a .183 BA and slugging percentage, didn’t get his first double until June. He was a singles hitter who didn’t hit many singles, collecting but four doubles in 452 AB.
Robinson saved his worst for the home folks, batting .187 at Fulco with a .212 slugging percentage — numbers that would embarrass many pitchers. He wasn’t much better defensively, committing 29 errors in 138 games.
Robinson was traded to the Giants in June 1975. A year later, he was back in Atlanta, acquired along with Willie Montanez in the ill-fated Darrell Evans deal. He’d appear in 42 games over the next two seasons, finishing his Braves career with a .223 BA and .531 OPS.