Atlanta Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer has taken over in the Braves starting outfield. He can no longer be cast aside ’cause other players are making big money. In reality, Schafer is the one playing like a big-time free agent.
Wednesday night Schafer went 3 for 4, with two RBIs, a run scored, a walk and two stolen bases, in the Braves 3-2 win over the Indians. He scored the winning run in the ninth inning, by legging out an infield hit, stealing second, and using his great speed to score from second on a good throw from medium depth in left field. Schafer’s performance Wednesday night was the best pure lead-off performance that the Braves have had all season.
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Schafer’s brilliance Wednesday night gives Braves fans hope that in those tight, low-scoring playoff games, Atlanta now has a difference maker, a player that can take a small crack in the door and kick it open to victory. A player who can put pressure on the opponent, and scratch out a key run against a dominating pitcher.
What I like about Schafer’s season is that after he came back from the stress fracture, he struggled, yet he has overcome the adversity and regained his early season form. That shows perseverance, maturity and commitment, three traits that Schafer did not display much in prior seasons.
Next year the Braves will have a tough time selling B.J. Upton as a starter after the way Schafer has played in 2013. Earlier in the season, explaining why he was playing guys who were struggling, Fredi Gonzalez cited their “bubble gum cards”. Meaning that the guys who were struggling had been very productive in their careers and that he expected them to regain their career form. Well, next season you can look at those bubble gum cards and B.J. Upton’s will show a very poor 2013 season, while Schafer’s will show solid production.