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braves-defense-strong | April | 2007 Articles

2007 Archives

Braves Defense Strong

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Coming into this season, the Braves infield defense was a concern on more than a couple people's minds. The rebuilt right side of the infield came with most of those new concerns. Adam Laroche and Marcus Giles, two very good defensive regulars were replaced by Scott Thorman and Kelly Johnson, who is in his first season at second base. Through 7 1/2 games the Braves have been near perfect in the field. The infield may be the weak point later on in the season with basically everyone average or below average defenders. The outfield isn't a weak point. I would say the Braves sport the best defensive outfield in baseball with Langerhans, Jones, and Frenchy out there. Catcher: Brian McCann drew a lot of criticism last year for his defense but a lot of it seemed to be caused by the ankle injury he suffered early on in the season. His footwork took a serious hit, which affected both his throwing and mobility behind the plate. While caught stealing percentage hasn't been great this season, I will give him a pass since he has had to face Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes in this short season on the basepaths. He has been blocking balls, calling great games, and just looks all-around terrific behind the plate. First Base: Bobby and Schuerholz said before the season that Thorman would play everyday and while Wilson's shoulder has forced him to platoon with Thorman, they haven't had any problems replacing Laroche's defense. Wilson hasn't been able to show off as many great scoops as Thorman, but he's already made a game-saving catch for the final out in one of the Mets games. Thorman has been able to make more than enough scoops to show off his defensive prowess. Laroche had the better glove, but Thorman and Wilson make up for that with improved range at first. Second Base: Kelly haters had one thing to hold onto this offseason, and that was a failed shortstop who had moved to the outfield and then to second years later after Tommy John surgery would not make a serviceable second baseman. If these first couple games are a sign of his ability, then those doubters are wrong. He has handled everything†expected†and made some nice plays along the way. He won't have the range of some of the top defensive second basemen and won't win any gold gloves, but he has been better than even I expected him to be. Shorstop: Edgar Renteria has been Edgar Renteria; what more can you say? His range†isn't what it used to be but his hands are as good as ever. I have seen one misjudged ball this season from Renteria and the rest he has handled easily. He really makes everything look smooth and easy. Third Baseman: Chipper isn't all that and has never been all that. He has already made two errors this season and is one of those guys who will make spectacular plays and then turn an easy play into an adventure (ie. David Wright). He is solid but he will never be great and has lived up to that billing this season. Left Field: Langerhans has been OK so far but not what we have come to expect. He really hasn't had much time in left so far but I have seen him misjudge a couple flyballs already in this season. Nothing to worry about, but he hasn't been his gold glove caliber self so far. The other half of that platoon, Matt Diaz, still looks lost in the field. He needs a map to find the ball in the outfield and takes the most excessive routes to flyballs that I have ever seen. There is a reason he isn't an everyday player and it is pretty apparent. Center Field: His defense is one of the few constants on this team. He has looked incredible out in center after shedding a few pounds this offseason. The range has climbed back up from recent years and just ask David Wright, a victim of an incredible diving catch, how Andruw's defense has†been so far. He is one of the top defensive centerfielders in the history of baseball and is still in a league of his own. Right Field: Francoeur hasn't really been tested so far this season. He has just had a ton of routine flyballs hit his way and no one has tested that cannon he has for an arm. I can't really say much about him. He has been good I guess, but all the plays he has made are expected to be made. I guess we can't complain.

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