May 2, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) leans on the dugout bench during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves: Upgrading the Bench from Within!

An Atlanta Braves OFF DAY….Boooooo! Tomahawk Take articles…YAY!

It’s an off day and the Braves are still STREAKING!!!  When a team wins 7 in a row, it seems hardly time to discuss making some changes, and it’s likely that changes won’t come until the team takes a downturn.  The Braves seem to have some sort of formula for clubhouse chemistry and rely quite hard on keeping all 25 players comfortable with each other. Gavin Floyd mentioned this in an interview at the beginning of this year discussing the absence of “clicks” inside the clubhouse and how it seemed the 25-man group was a cohesive unit. This is one of the components of the Braves that has long been my favorite aspect of the organization as it makes it easy to root for a group of guys that are well-behaved and seem to enjoy each other’s company.  With that being said, there are still some improvements that the Braves could be looking at internally.

Essentially, the Braves have ran out the same bench the entire year: Gerald Laird, Ryan Doumit, Ramiro Pena, Jordan Schafer, Dan Uggla/Tyler Pastornicky.  Thus far, here has been the line from our bench players in 146 plate appearances: .208/.261/.308. This is bad.  Fixing the bench is a must.

Another aspect that needs fixin’ is the Braves’ performance against right-handed pitching.  The team collectively has a .657 OPS against RHP, bad enough for worst in the league.  Finding a hitter that can hit RHP off the bench, or in a spot start is also a must.

The Breakdown

The Braves need a few players that can come off the bench, mash RHP, or spot-start for players struggling against RHP.  Let’s take a look at the candidates:

Atlanta Braves Internal Bench Candidates

Mark Hamilton- An unlikely choice as many view his bat as Quad-A, but his numbers against RHP are no joke: .292/.403/.476.  He’s a high strikeout, high power, high OBP kind of guy.

Steven Lerud- Also an unlikely choice as he’s been the backup catcher at Gwinnett until Christian Bethancourt‘s promotiom, but he has really hit well against RHP: .286/.400/.500.  These numbers are likely false hopes as he’s never been known for his bat.

Brandon Boggs- A switch-hitter that hits LHP better than RHP, but still puts up a respectable .750-ish OPS against right handers.

Cedric Hunter- Having a remarkable year at Mississippi, Cedric’s OPS sits at .924 through 68 games and his power (8 HR) does not come at the expense of contact as he’s only struck out 28 times in 250 plate appearances.  He has a reverse split for a left-handed batter, but it’s more likely a small sample than anything else.  I’m not sure why he’s not getting more press as he’s only 26 and was a highly regarded prospect.

Kyle Kubitza- I’ve spilt enough ink on Kyle, but his bat speaks for itself as he continues to hit.  His OPS is up to .884 and he hits both RHP and LHP well.

So, who would be your choice internally?  Is there someone I left off? Let’s hear it!



Tags: Atlanta Braves Brandon Boggs Cedric Hunter Dan Uggla Gerald Laird Jordan Schafer Kyle Kubitza Mark Hamilton Ramiro Pena Ryan Doumit Steven Lerud Tyler Pastornicky

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