Matt Diaz Deserves to Start in Right Field Right Now

Brett KettyleCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 10: Outfielder Matt Diaz #23 of the Atlanta Braves bats against the Washington Nationals April 10, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

While playing a three game series against the Washington Nationals this weekend, the Braves faced three left-handed pitchers.

In the second and third games of the series, the Braves left Jeff Francoeur on the bench while starting Matt Diaz in right field and Garret Anderson in left field.

Despite the fact that Diaz hits much better against lefties than righties, the Braves should be using Diaz as an everyday right fielder as long as the only other option is Jeff Francoeur.

Despite all signs pointing to a bounce back year by Francoeur, he has been a disaster at the plate this year. His 290 at bats have produced a .245./.278/.341 line.

Throughout his career, Diaz has been a platoon player who plays mainly against left-handed starting pitchers. In his career (548 at bats), Diaz has hit .332 against lefties, so it makes sense why teams would always let him play against a southpaw.

However, many don’t realize that Diaz has more than held his own against right-handed pitchers. In 504 attempts against righties, Diaz has hit a respectable .286. While his slugging percentage against righties is only .393, he still would be a much better option than Francoeur.

The Braves will likely continue to look for right field options outside the organization. Diaz should be the everyday starter, regardless of the opposing pitcher.

At this point, almost any option is better than Jeff Francoeur. Despite his reputation as a platoon player, Diaz has shown he can hit right-handed pitching throughout his major league career.

The Braves are scheduled to face all right-handed starters through the all-star break and Matt Diaz should get a chance to prove that he is the best right field option the Braves have currently.