Can Fredi Gonzalez Deny Jordan Schafer Much Longer?
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?