March 17, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Drew Sutton (4) at the plate during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Atlanta won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Drew Sutton should take Matt Diaz’s spot on the bench

Andrelton Simmons and Mike Minor have been the talk of Spring Training for the Braves so far but I am much more interested in “the next Ben Zobrist” aka Drew Sutton.

Drew Sutton has done well in 14 Spring Training games (24 AB’s) with a .375/.444/.500 line including a double and a triple. Matt Diaz (12 games, 34 AB’s) on the other hand hasn’t dazzled anyone with his .206/.270/.324 line. Sutton also has the advantage with his plate discipline walking 6 times compared to Diaz’s 3.

But don’t think I would take 20 or 30 at bats and tell you who should make the team based on them. Digging a bit further, and going back into last season we find even more evidence that Sutton is a much better fit for the bench spot.

Sutton (MLB) .315 .362 .444 0 5.0% 21.7%
Sutton (AAA) .295 .382 .476 5 10.9% 19.8%
Diaz .263 .302 .323 0 4.5% 19.4%

Granted, Sutton didn’t have a ton of AB’s last year in the bigs but he had good numbers in triple A as well. The biggest differences are in the on base percentage and the slugging percentage which both are more important than average in my opinion.

I don’t see how Sutton could not make the team at this point and if he loses the spot to Matt Diaz I will be shocked. Sutton has the potential to be an above average offensive contributor, can play all infield positions and the corner outfield positions, and also hits from both sides which will be valuable late in games.

Even if Sutton doesn’t produce anything close to his numbers above his projections are still better than what Diaz put up in 2011. I don’t think I need any more evidence to point out how obvious this decision should be. If you think I am wrong I would love to hear a reason why, because quite honestly I can’t think of one.


Ben Duronio has a nice article discussing the possibility of Drew Sutton starting at shortstop and I was definitely interested in the possibility. Why not?

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Drew Sutton Matt Diaz Spring Training

  • FredOwens

    Always thought bringing Diaz back was a horrible idea and when Sutton was signed I expected him to be a member of the 40 man roster. Diaz is sunken cost and should be traded for ‘future considerations” if we can find someone who wants him. Neither solve the right handed power shortage but dumping Matty is a start.

  • CarlosCollazo

     @FredOwens I agree but I don’t think we would be able to get anything for him. Hopefully they won’t let him take up a bench spot.

  • FredOwens

     @CarlosCollazo They will until they decide he can’t be traded somewhere. Wren won’t cut $2 easily . Remember Scott Proctologist?

  • Big Bad Bob

    Too many people are too quick to dismiss Matt Diaz because of a poor season last year, but quick to point out that Prado “just had a bad season” last year and will come back strong this year. Don’t misunderstand me, I know that Matty is nearing the wrong side of 30 and that a precipitous drop in power accompanies that time period (see, for example, Chipper Jones). But, what is wrong with a single?
    However,  Matty has always been a lefty killer and he hasn’t “forgotten how to hit” (see, Jason Heyward). Drew Suttton’s splits are horrendous against LH pitchers: .259 against all lefties and .214 against lefty starters. Matty, on the other hand: .329 against all lefties and .326 against lefty starters.
    The Braves are challenged against lefties (meaning: horrible hitters).  Sutton would only exacerbate the problem if Matty was not on the team.
    I expect Matty to rake against lefties, again, this year. I, also, expect Sutton to make the team as the Utility Infielder.
    Why not try to have the best of both wotlds?

  • CarlosCollazo

     @Big Bad Bob Sutton has the potential to be a lot better than Matt Diaz. He just needs the opportunity. He is also much better defensively and can play many positions. Sure Sutton had a bad average against lefties last year but he only had 14 plate appearances against them. I would rather have Sutton and one of Durando/Parraz on the bench than Matt Diaz.

  • Big Bad Bob

    Durango? Surely you jest! We saw how Constanza did with regular at bats! Parraz, perhaps, but never Durango.
    However, even if Sutton is the better player defensively, there is no evidence that he can match Diaz’s bat against lefties. Granted, he may have potential, but we all saw Heyward’s potential in 2010 and his miserable performance in 2011, or Hinske’s potential when he won the ROY. Potential does not always translate to success.
    If the Braves wish to contend for a playoff spot this year, I think that FG and FW will make Matty D a part of the bench unless he proves that last year’s woes weren’t a fluke. Matty has the ability to rake against left handers. Sutton would simply be another link in the “we can’t hit lefties” chain, potential or not.

  • aryanspecial

    @Big Bad Bob I am not a fan of Diaz and hope he doesn’tmake the team. But this case is as good as any for why he will. We simply do not have solid right handed bats vs leftys off of the bench. How is Sutton at short? I worry about Jack Wilson.

  • Big Bad Bob

     @aryanspecial  @Big Sutton has played every position except CF, Catcher and Pitcher. He profiles better as a second baseman but does have MLB experience as a SS. He is rated as “solid” at short, which I translate to mean that he is average.
    Jack Wilsom, on the other hand, was excellent in the field at short, not too long ago, but can now be rated as average to above average.His range has diminished and he has never had a bat. If it weren’t for Sutton’s lack of “veteran leadership” at the SS position, Jack wouldn’t be on the team.

  • FredOwens

     @Big Bad Bob  @aryanspecial  @Big To say Wilson NEVER had a bat is incorrect. He was NL silver slugger at SS in 2004 and between 04 and his injury in 2008 he was an above average hitter for NL SS. He was never Hanley, Tulo or Escobar but he had a useful bat. Injury the Seattle ended that. HE’s here to teach SS to TP and keep him focused while playing once or twice a week.
    You hack on Sutton as not hitting lefties is a little skewed as well. He’s only had 28 at bats against them, 14 last year over 11 games,  Hardly a regular enough routine to say his split is horrendous. He was 3 for 14 last year, if he had 1 more hit he moves from a .214 to .286, two more hits and its .357. . Career he’s 7 for 27. One more hit and his .259 become a .296 and with 2 more it’s a .333. The sample size is way too small to make such a call. In 2007 Prado was by your definition horrendous. He had a .211 average but he was 8 for 38. Small sample = bad data

  • Big Bad Bob

     @FredOwens  @aryanspecial  @Big If you like to cherry pick statistics, you could also say that he hit .317 in the minors, but the sad truth is that was 2008 and was his best season in the minors. He has never compiled a full season in the minors in which he hit over .275 except for that year. In fact, fangraphs predicted this triple slash line if Sutton received 371 at bats this year: .238/.320/.355 with a .300 wOBA. Whether or not he can hit left handers is yet to be determined, potential be damned.

  • CarlosCollazo

     @Big Bad Bob  @FredOwens  @aryanspecial  @Big That predicted stat line is also better than what Matt Diaz put up last season.