Can Fredi Gonzalez Deny Jordan Schafer Much Longer?

Jordan Schafer has been consistent all season

Jordan Schafer has been consistent all season

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer is having an outstanding 2013 season.  Schafer has arguably been the most consistent Braves  position player, hitting .346 in April, .293 in May and .323 in June.

In his quest to become a starter, Schafer nailed his resume to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez‘s forehead Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers, by going 4 for 5 with a double, a homer, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base.  It was the most complete offensive performance that we have seen by a Braves player all season.

Schafer is by far the best lead-off hitter the Braves have on the roster.  He leads the team in on-base-percentage and despite getting half the at bats that most of the regulars have, he leads the team in steals with eight.

In addition to his bat, Schafer is the best fielding center fielder and left fielder on the roster.  He covers a lot of ground and has a strong, accurate arm.

What I don’t understand is that the Braves organization has always had a pitching and defense first philosophy.  Schafer has not only been superior offensively, he brings more to the table defensively than two starters.  Yet he sits on the bench and starts once, maybe twice a week.

We’re approaching the halfway point in the season and you wonder what Schafer has to do to get regular at bats.  It isn’t as if he’s playing behind three outfielders that are having great seasons.  Neither B.J. Upton or Jason Heyward have hit their weight all season and B.J. has played a sketchy center field.

In addition, Schafer’s on-base and speed combination brings a dimension to the Braves that no one else brings.

We’re approaching the end of June and the All-Star break is not far away.  Will Fredi Gonzalez make the long overdue move and insert Jordan Schafer into the starting line-up on a more regular basis?

Profile photo of Jim Hart About Jim Hart

Jim has covered the Atlanta Braves since 2008 for local and national broadcast news organizations. He also appears regularly talking Braves baseball on WCCP-FM in Clemson, South Carolina, and the ESPN Radio affiliate, 1420 Sports in St. Augustine, Florida.

Comments

  1. As you know Mr. Hart, I am a strong proponent for Jordan Shafer being in the starting line-up for the Braves. He has earned it. As you stated, he produces both offensively and defensively, and runs the bases like no other on this team. Why is Fredi “balking” on this move? Can you enlighten me?

    • Lee, I like the job Fredi is doing with the Braves, and he obviously has
      far more information available than us to make his decisions. I think
      there is a middle ground, where Schafer starts against right-handed
      pitchers and there would be a 4-player platoon in the outfield. As to
      Fredi’s motives, I think he wants to give his very talented starters
      every opportunity to get their seasons turned around. Their upside is
      higher than Schafer’s upside is his thinking, I guess. Schafer sure is doing a lot of good things, though.

      • Jim…thank you for your response and thoughts. I think the middle ground appears to be the best solution, and it appears to be happening. I only hope that the upside of the starters kicks in before it is too late. They seem to be coming around.
        Btw…I always enjoy your insightful, and spot on articles!

  2. jkbraves says:

    I have been saying Jordan Schafer should be the starting center fielder all year. BJ Upton is a terrible hitter with his .170 average, but Frank wren gave him a 5-yr. 75.25 million contract so he thinks he should play BJ. no matter what!! even if it cost the braves a division title!!

    • Sadly, that may well be the outcome. That contract is ridiculous, & will likely cost the Braves the division!

    • Quite a few teams wanted BJ Upton and were willing to pay about the same money as the Braves. It will be interesting to see what happens in the second half of the season.

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