If Jason Heyward had the most disappointing season last year then Martin Prado easily took the silver medal. He seemed to transition as well as anyone could have hoped to the outfield but his offense was far below expectations, especially for the everyday left fielder.
In fairness to Prado, he is not an outfielder. I don’t hold him to the standard of a left fielder because he is an infielder. Others choose to be more critical of him but I find it extremely hard to be critical of a player who many say works the hardest on the field and in the gym, a player that earned a starting job and immediately had to move to the outfield for the benefit of the team, without a complaint.
Martin Prado’s success relies on his high average, and when he doesn’t bring that high average to the table the success isn’t their ether. Last season he didn’t have that average (.260) and everything else suffered because of that. He ended up with a slash of .260/.302/.385 compared to his career mark of .293/.341/.434.
His staff infection probably led to the decline and with him being 100% healthy in 2012 and new hitting coaches I am expecting Prado to come back to what we saw in 2009 and 2010 and make people wonder why we ever thought about trading him this off season.
I feel like Bill James has a pretty solid projection for Prado, but I would expect him to either increase on his power or at least stay around his career slugging percentage of .434. I think he will hit closer to 15 homeruns than 10 but other than that James’ prediction is pretty close to what I would say.
Martin’s success next year will be extremely important for the Braves success. Without a legitimate left fielder, Prado will need to be able to hit like he did in 2009 and 2010. If he is healthy, then I don’t see any reason to doubt him.
Defensively Prado seems to be average to above average in left field, which is all that we can ask of him. He’s not supposed to be in the outfield but he sure is doing a solid job of it while he’s there. He should see some time at third base as well, to give Chipper a rest. Third is where he should be playing all the time in my opinion and if Chipper retires at the end of this season he should be given the third base job.
I have high hopes for Prado in 2012 despite his many haters, and trade rumors. He is one of my favorite Braves because of his attitude and work ethic. How can you not pull for someone like that?