I had to lump this section together, since the outfield has had so many different looks throughout the season.
First, we’ll start with Jason Heyward.
The rookie phenom showed what he could do on his first Major League swing, belting an absolute bullet into the Braves’ bullpen off of Carlos Zambrano.
The rest of April was up and down for him, as he’d go 4-for-5 and then 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, although he did have his six home runs.
He started to show sings of the player that he will become in May however, as he posted a 1.081 OPS and had 16 BBs vs. 10 Ks in that month.
He had an abysmal June, but that was due to him playing with a deep bone bruise that would put him on the 15-day disabled list.
A fan favorite, he was voted to start in the All-Star Game.
If he comes back injury-free, we could be looking at a great second half.
Now we have the stories of the three other main outfielders: Melky Cabrera, Matt Diaz, and Nate McLouth (I’ll cover Infante next).
Cabrera started off poorly in April just as most of the Braves did, but he has since picked it up, providing some solid offensive performance with the bat.
He’ll hope to add some more pop in the second half, albeit with probable less playing time with Heyward and Diaz’s return.
Diaz, like Jurrjens, was doing badly until he got injured. Sometimes a slumping player needs an injury to just slow him down and it seems to have worked for Diaz, as he has hit .391/.391/.696 in 24 at-bats since back from injury.
The Braves’ lefty specialist platoon player in 2008 showed he could hit righties as well in 2009 and hopes to continue the trend in the second half of this season.
Nate McLouth has been the biggest disappointment of the Braves’ season so far.
After the former All-Star center fielder was acquired early in 2009, The Braves looked like they had a long-term outfield plan which included McLouth, Jordan Schafer, and Heyward.
That dream has not become a reality yet however, Schafer is back in the Minors and McLouth is struggling mightily.
McLouth is one of the best base stealers in the game percentage-wise, but he cannot put those talents to work if he can’t get on base.
Hoping for another All-Star performance this season, McLouth got just the opposite. He’s hit well below the Mendoza line this season, at .176.
Being a left-handed hitter, he shouldn’t be expected to eat lefties alive, but a sub .400 OPS against them is not what a man of his talent should be expected to do either.
On what has turned out to be the Braves’ worst play of the year, Gerardo Parra hits an inside-the-park home run when Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward collided, injuring them both.
The play gave McLouth a concussion and shook Heyward up, but it also cost the Braves’ the game.
McLouth has been on the DL ever since and hopefully an injury can get him out of his slump, as it did with Jurrjens and Diaz.