In my previous article, I wrote about who I thought would have the chance to be guys off the bench in the infield. Finishing out the bench, there are only two spots left. I feel like the guys on the infield will get more time than the guys in the outfield unless one of the Uptons or the Jay-Hey kid gets injured. Also, I am naming a guy that I believe will make his way into the lineup this year, though he may not make the Opening Day roster.
Reed Johnson is the main guy for me out there. The biggest strength for Reed is that he is a great utility outfielder that brings a career .284 average to the plate. He won’t be knocking balls out of the park left, nor will he be swiping bases every time he gets on. He simply puts the ball in play and gets on base. It gets hard to see Reed playing much on the defensive side of the ball. He has a career fielding percentage above the league average during his time (.989% to .986%) but his lack of speed forces him into one of the corners.
If Reed can’t play center field, they definitely need someone who can play it for possible spot starts. In November of 2012, the Braves picked up a familiar face –Jordan Schafer. He was supposed to be the solution for the Braves when he debuted in 2009 but proved otherwise. In his career, Shafer has had over 300 ABs twice and his average between those seasons comes to around .227. He has very little power and he strikes out more than Dan Uggla (26% of the time to 23%), but he does have one asset – speed. His speed does not always equate to great defense at times but due to his ability to swipe a base, I see Shafer making the big league roster as the left-handed bench bat.
My wild card guy this year is middle infielder, Ramiro Pena. He has been playing in the Yankees farm system since 2005, and has had short stints in the big leagues. He has been moved up and down in that system for so long, it seems like he hasn’t had a chance to get comfortable with a team. His glove has been somewhat sporadic and power will never be an asset for him; he just puts the bat on the ball and doing that could get him a job on the big league team before the summer is over.
Evan Gattis, Tyler Pastornicky, Chris Johnson, Reed Johnson, and Jordan Shafer are getting my nod for the Braves bench to start the 2013 season. Does that make the best bench in the big leagues? I don’t think they will be among the leagues best, but I do believe that is the best that the Braves have to work with at the moment. I think they will help the team get back to the playoffs in 2013.