Opinion: Should the Atlanta Braves bench Ender Inciarte?
By Steven Teal
Inciarte is a beast in the second half
The difficulty in removing Ender from leading off each game lies in his career numbers. When batting first in the lineup he has a .291 batting average with 584 hits including 25 home runs and 154 RBI.
Inciarte has a .340 on base percentage with 144 walks and 79 career stolen bases. Those are the numbers that keep him in that position day after day.
The analytics back up that Ender is a viable candidate to lead off games. However, that is most likely fueled by the incredible job he does in the second half each season.
The Atlanta Braves center fielder has a .315 average with a .361 on base percentage and .432 slugging percentage. In 1341 at bats, Inciarte has 423 hits including 71 doubles, 17 triples, 17 home runs, and 109 RBI.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Even more impressive is that his BAbip (batting average on balls in play) increases from .291 to a robust .359 average. This kind of an increase tends to suggest a jump in hard-hit balls – not just balls that manage to find clean grass somewhere.
Indeed, in 2018, his line drive rate jumped from 19.7% to 30.3% in the second half while grounders fell by roughly that same 10% margin.
With that being said, eventually Inciarte has got to start off as strong as he finishes if he is to retain… or regain… his status as the Atlanta Braves lead off man.
We know he will make the necessary adjustments in the latter half of the regular season but until then Ozzie Albies will be replacing him atop the order.