Leading Off for the Atlanta Braves
By Fred Owens
Platoon – It’s not just a movie
New manager Brian Snitker is trying to walk two roads, he needs to win games and he needs to find out if Smith can hit major league LHP. So far Smith hasn’t show he can; in his 31 PA against LHP he’s posted a .071/.133/.143/.276 line with 11 Ks and 2 walks. The man he platoons with – Francoeur – has 49 PA vs LHP and has a .327/.382/.469/.851 line with 2 homers.
Snitker did start Smith against lefty Jeff Locke who has a pretty good sized reverse split but Smith went 0-3; two ground outs and foul popup. I suspect he’ll keep trying to put Mallex in games against lefties like Locke hoping start to find a way to hit them. He will also continue to try to win games and use Francoeur against lefties particularly now that he seems to have located his home run stroke.
Next: Another Minor league Arm
That’s A Wrap
Smith’s supporters are adamant that he should play everyday and work through it. In AAA players do that, while AAA teams want to win their primary task is to develop players so allowing a player to play everyday in order to learn is an accepted option; in the majors it is not.
- I understand that Smith had a .333/.388/.422 line against LHP at Pearl last year in 49 PA
- I understand that in AAA last year the line dropped to .288/.342/.333 in 111 PA with better but still not major league quality pitching.
- I understand the Braves aren’t going to win this year
- I understand too that they are going to try to win because that’s what major league teams have to do.
- I understand as well that the longer Smith struggles the more it gets into his head and the harder it is to get out.
With the current roster, Inciarte and Markakis as leadoff options and Smith comfortable and performing well in the nine hole I don’t see a reason to change.