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braves-speedster-slowing-down | July | 2007 Articles

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Braves Speedster Slowing Down

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Willie Harris was a minor signing this off-season. The speedy 28-year old utility man was no†more than a footnote in the off-season happenings. Most casual Braves fans had never even heard of the Georgia native. A callup at the end of April made Harris an instant fan favorite. He provided the speed on the basepaths that Braves fans haven't seen since Rafael Furcal and hit close to .380†through his first two months. Since the beginning of June, Harris has been ice cold with a line of†.171/.227/.171. It isn't really a surprise. Harris is a .252 career hitter in 1074 major league at bats. Anyone led to believe Harris could be a productive starter because of his hot start was setting themself up for a big let-down, and I admit, I was getting there. Without any real shift in his perephiral stats, Harris screamed fluke just about as much as Jorge Sosa did in 2005. Don't mistake this for saying he can't be a productive major leaguer. Harris could still provide an average somewhere around his career mark with great speed and solid defense at a handful of positions in the infield and outfield. Pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, occasional starter; he should be a key piece to the Braves bench. This should open up playing time for Matt Diaz. Bobby hasn't been able to use Diaz against right-handers because of Harris' success even though Diaz has hit twelve points higher against right-handers (.367) then he has against southpaws (.355). At .358/.379/.485 , Diaz is a fine option in left despite mediocre defense and plate discipline. Sorry Willie,†I was rooting for you but your true colors are showing. Hopefully Diaz gets the playing time he deserves now. Batting champ next year? Who knows.

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