Second base was a very unproductive position for the Atlanta Braves last season. The six players that played the position combined for a .224 batting average, 5 home runs, 50 RBI, 24 doubles, two triples and three stolen bases in 602 at bats.
That is awful. Of course, it was the end of the Dan Uggla era in Atlanta, and we don’t even want to look at how bad the 2013 numbers were for second base.
But the question we now have to focus on is whether or not the 2015 second basemen can improve on those hideous numbers. Jace Peterson is going to be the starting second baseman. He’s hitting .339 through Wednesday’s game, and without a doubt Peterson has been one of the best stories of the spring.
Peterson, a left-handed hitter who will turn 25 next month, won the coaches over even before the Grapefruit League games began. His grit and hard-nosed approach is exactly what this team and this lineup needs as it transforms from a home run-hitting, strikeout lineup to one that will hopefully make more contact and play A-B-C baseball.
Going on Peterson’s minor league numbers, we cannot expect much power. His high was 7 home runs in 2013 for Lake Elsinore in the California League, which is High-A. But Peterson did show speed in the minor leagues, with 132 stolen bases in his first three full seasons in the minors.
Peterson’s minor league batting average was .287, while his on base percentage was .381 in 1465 at bats. If he repeats those numbers, Peterson might be the Rookie of the Year.
Considering what last year’s second basemen did, Peterson doesn’t need to do much to improve on those numbers. Can Peterson hit better than .224 and produce more than 24 doubles and drive in more than 50? Probably. Can Peterson steal more than three bases? Certainly.
With all the concern about the offense, we must look at what can be improved from last season, when the offense was next to last in runs scored. If the Braves can improve on that team stat, they may be better than people think. But they must have things like Peterson improving on last year’s numbers for that to happen.
If spring training is any indication, the Braves might have a better situation at second base than they did a year ago.
Sure, Jose Peraza is still a possibility for second base. He’ll be in Triple-A to start the season, and will be only a phone call and a quick trip up the interstate away. But for now, the job is Peterson’s, and there’s many reasons to be excited about what he can do to make second base less of an issue than it was a year ago.
Tommy LaStella (.256 batting average, 1 home run, 31 RBI, 80 hits in 312 at bats, 16 doubles, 1 triple and 2 stolen bases).
Dan Uggla (.175, 2, 10. 21-120, 3, 0, 0)
Phillip Gosselin (.221, 0, 0, 15-68, 3, 0, 1)
Ramiro Pena (.188, 2, 5, 12-64, 2, 0, 0)
Tyler Pastornicky (.185, 0, 2, 5-27, 0, 1, 0)
Emilio Bonifacio (.182, 0, 2, 2-11, 0, 0, 0)
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com.