Who Will Fill Chipper’s Leadership Void?

Chipper Jones displays his sweet swing

Chipper Jones was a great leader in the Braves clubhouse

Chipper Jones was the Atlanta Braves’ unquestioned leader and player’s mouthpiece.  Now that he has retired who will fill that void?

Catcher Brian McCann was the consensus choice, but his injury situation will either take him elsewhere or keep him on the shelf a considerable amount of time next season.  Nix McCann.

So lets look at this job opening like a Human Resources professional would.  Leading a major league baseball team…  just what is the job description?

Typically it is an everyday player who produces at an above average level, oftentimes a star.  A player who is respected, not only in the clubhouse, but throughout the organization, and in the media.

So who are the candidates?

Dan Uggla is well-respected, well-liked by everyone, and projects well when speaking with the media.  He doesn’t even hide in the training room while enduring one of his excruciating slumps.  But does he produce enough on a day-to-day basis to be the man?  The answer is unfortunately not.

How ’bout Freddie Freeman?  He’s a budding star, a probable fixture in the middle of the Braves line-up for years to come.  Freeman appears to have most of the tools the job requires.  Except two:  He doesn’t particularly like to lead and isn’t crazy about dealing with the media.  Scratch Freddie Freeman.

Andrelton Simmons played excellent baseball as a rookie shortstop, and could be the unquestioned leader at some point in his career.  But he’s still young and unproven…  maybe someday.

Rightfielder Jason Heyward will enter his fourth major league season next year.  Athletically he is the most talented player in the Braves lineup.  After a disappointing sophomore campaign he bounced back with a solid 2012 and the sky appears to be the limit.

Heyward is respected by his teammates and has developed solid media skills.  If he chooses to embrace the leadership role, he would be a good leader.

But the player who will most likely be the Atlanta Braves leader in 2013 is Martin Prado.  Excellent player, well-respected, has a “team first” attitude, classy, and handles the media very well.  Prado does whatever it takes to help his team win, as shown by his willing move to left field from second base after the Braves acquired Dan Uggla.

Will Prado be a better leader than Chipper Jones?  That remains to be seen.  But what we do know is that Prado has been a better and more valuable player than Jones the past four seasons.

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