May 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Braves pinch hitter Jordan Schafer (17) rounds second base after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Braves defeated the Reds 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Unknown Factor: Jordan Schafer

It has been quite a wild ride over the past few years for Jordan Schafer. In 2009, he was possibly the next big thing for the Braves, then got a chance to show his talents in 2011 before the team shipped him off to Houston. While in Houston, he had a chance to play 106 games in 2012, but wasn’t doing enough for the team to pick him back up for the 2013 season.

In November of 2012, Schafer rejoined the team that brought him into the big leagues with no more hopes of being an all day center fielder, but a guy that would come off the bench day-to-day and have pinch hit opportunities on days. That could be the farthest from what Schafer has shown everyone what he can really do.

June 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer (17) dives into home to score on a passed ball before New York Mets starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (38) can make the tag in the fifth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

In 18 games starting in the leadoff spot, Schafer has been quite impressive. In the leadoff spot, he is slashing .313/.425/.522. An on-base percentage of .425 is good for any player, much less a leadoff guy. Where I am impressed is on two fronts: 1. Out of his 21 hits in the leadoff spot, only 13 have been singles. And when he has gotten only singles, he had 4 stolen bases. Not much Jordan Schafer on first base! 2. His hitting with runners in scoring position has been above the standards other Braves are giving.

Schafer has started a total of 24 games this season. The Braves are scoring a total of 4.79 runs per game in those games. In those 24 games, compare that to the 3.8 runs that the Braves are scoring without him starting, and it seems like they should like him being in the lineup. Also, Jordan has failed to reach base in just 4 games, getting at least one base hit in 17 of them. Needless to say, he has been quite successful in the starting lineup this season.

While some fans of the team may not be able to see how well Schafer is performing as a starter, it’s as simple as watching the games. It may be hard to see what he’s doing since he only gets spot starts, but it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the Braves are scoring more runs with Jordan in the lineup.

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