Bloggers, pundits and sportswriters are continually speculating who will be the Braves left fielder, and/or bat lead-off, in 2013. Many are predicting that GM Frank Wren will make a trade to bring in a warm body.
The more time that goes by without any movement leads me to believe that the Braves may look within. As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.”
Jose Constanza has played reasonably well in his stints with the Braves. He brings good speed, solid defense, and has no major weaknesses.
Constanza played 42 games with Atlanta in 2011, and 37 in 2012. Cumulatively he has hit .281, with a .332 on-base-percentage. He has registered 12 steals in 18 attempts, and made only 1 error in the field.
Last season at Gwinnett, in 333 at bats, Constanza hit .312, with a .361 on-base-percentage, and 23 steals in 31 attempts. If he was 23 years old, and had been a top draft choice, everyone would be raving about the “young phenom” who is ready to produce big at the major league level.
Instead, Constanza is a guy who is flying under the radar. Until Frank Wren and the world read this blog, of course. (Okay, maybe not)
A Constanza statistic stands out… against major league pitching he has hit .340 against left-handers, and .259 against righties. His minor league stats indicate he’s actually better against righties, but he has at least proven that he’s not over-matched against lefties against major league pitching..
Constanza only struck out 25 times last season in the 333 at bats, and on a Braves team that often has trouble putting the bat on the ball, that would be refreshing.
One other Constanza tidbit: while first baseman Ernesto Mejia and catcher/left fielder Evan Gattis seemingly are getting all the winter league publicity, Constanza is currently hitting .346 in with a .400 on-base-percentage iin 104 at bats.
Atlanta Bullpen Braves Blog Analysis:
Don’t be surprised if Jose Constanza is the Braves starting left fielder on Opening Day.