I can hear it now all over Braves Nation, "Omar Infante had better be starting every day next season." And while he has had a truly outstanding season, do not expect it to continue next year.
Now that I have 75 percent of Braves Nation ready to kill me, maybe I should explain myself.
Let me start off by saying that I have the utmost respect for Omar and his abilities as a player. I also believe he is the best super utility player in Major League Baseball.
Now on to my reasoning to why he should remain in that role.
First off, this season Infante has enjoyed a ridiculously high BABIP at .381. If his BABIP normalizes to his career average and the much more attainable .315, you can expect him to hit about .273 next season.
Now, a lot of people will say that this is way too simplistic of a way to show his potential drop-off, and I agree completely. Most fans agree that if Infante can give us a .300 batting average next season, they would be very happy with his production and this is where I completely disagree with them.
Let's assume Omar plays every day next season and accumulates 500 at-bats (not total plate apperances, just at-bats). Based on a 500 at-bat season, he would have a total of 150 hits.
Now, this season he has 126 hits and a grand total of 22 extra-base hits (13 doubles, two triples, seven home runs). Now let's average those percentages over 150 hits:
Doubles—(126/13)*150 = 15 doubles
Triples—(126/2)*150 = 2 triples
Home Runs—(126/7)*150 = 8 home runs
So if you expect a .300 average from Infante and he kept the same ratios of hits to extra-base hits, you can expect him to hit 15 doubles, two triples, and eight home runs.
Now, let's turn that line into a slugging percentage. Total bases = 1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR)
TB = 125 + 30 + 6 + 32, so that's 193 total bases. Now we divide that by his total AB. 193/500 = .386 SLG %.
Now let's also assume that he keeps the same batting average to OBP difference which currently stands at .036. This would make his slash line look like this:
That is a horrible line for an everyday player and it proves that looking at batting average alone is a terrible way of evaluating a player.
Now, by adding Infante to an everyday role next season, not only do you weaken the starting lineup, but you then significantly weaken the bench because there is not a utility player out there that can match Omar's production.
I love Omar Infante and what he brings to this team, and he has been great this season. I have no desire for him to be moved from the starting lineup this season.
Unfortunately, Omar's OBP and OPS are completely driven by his batting average, meaning that if he doesn't hit .330-plus, he has no value as an every day player.