Having three of the worst players in the National League would seemingly ruin most teams’ chances of making the playoffs, but not the Atlanta Braves’. While three of their opening day starters (four if you include Derek Lowe) have done their best to continue Atlanta’s postseason absence, three others have been amongst the best in the league. Here are six players, three on each end of the spectrum, that have had the greatest impact on the Braves’ season so far.
1) Brian McCann (4.9 Wins Above Replacement, tied for 6th in NL)
No one seemed too worried after Brian’s OBP dipped to .349 a season ago and with good reason. His eye problems are seemingly a thing of the past as he has produced a triple slash line of .281/.388./.484 so far this season. The plate discipline is back, and most defensive metrics say he has significantly improved his performance behind the plate as well.
2) Martin Prado (4.0 WAR, tied for 16th in NL)
Many Braves fans were happy to see Kelly Johnson go last off-season. While he has bounced back (in a big way) out in Arizona, Prado has all but matched his output in Atlanta. Although his bat looks better at second, he is clearly more comfortable playing third base, the silver lining of Chipper’s injury.
3) Jason Heyward (3.8 WAR, tied for 23rd in NL)
Undoubtedly the single most important upgrade from last year’s team was the promotion of Jason Heyward. The Braves’ right field, despite Matt Diaz’s best efforts, was a disaster last season. Everything totaled, Francoeur, Diaz, and Ryan Church combined for an OPS of .743 at the position. Heyward’s triple slash line of .278/.389/.475, however, has made the Braves forget about all that. Everyone knew he was going to be something special, just not this good this early.
1) Troy Glaus (.4 WAR, 9th worst among all qualified NL players)
Troy’s second half has made May a distant memory, and April seem quite vivid. Bad legs seem to have been his undoing, and the Derrek Lee trade spelled the end of any significant playing time. There is a good chance he has started his last game as an Atlanta Brave.
1) Melky Cabrera (-.6 WAR, dead last among all qualified NL players)
Not much to say here. Francoeur plate discipline + softball power + shoddy glove = worse than a replacement level player. If Frank Wren has any sense, and I believe he has lots of it, Melky will be non-tendered this off season.
2) Nate McClouth (-1.3 WAR, dead last among ALL NL players)
He does not even have enough plate appearances to be qualified, yet he still tops the list for the worst offensive player in the National League. Unfortunately, I just wrote about one of his replacements; the other isn’t much better either. Regardless of what level he plays at next season, the Braves are on the hook to pay him $6.5 million. Oh, and they will have to pay another $1.25 million to buy him out for 2012 as well.
Tags: Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth, Troy Glaus
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