Atlanta Braves: Martin Prado's Big Move

Will BrownContributor IJanuary 6, 2011

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Martin Prado #14 of the Atlanta Braves against the New York Mets at Turner Field on September 1, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Martin Prado was as valuable as anyone in baseball to his team in the first half of the season in 2010 playing second base.

His MVP-caliber season was derailed in the second half as injuries kept him out of the lineup for a stretch in August as well as the playoffs, as the Atlanta Braves were knocked out in the first round by the eventual World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants.

Prado was elected to his first All-Star game last year as a reserve at second base, but now will find himself playing either left field or third (depending upon Chipper Jones' rehabilitation), because of the trade for and now contract extension to Dan Uggla from the Florida Marlins.

I want to say that I thank Prado for his willingness to do what's best for the team, especially after being its best player for the first half of the year this past season.

Prado hit .307 in each of the past two seasons with homers jumping up from 11 in 2009 to 15 in 2010. Prado hit .325 and was leading the National League going into the All-Star game until a slight slump, along with some injuries, led him to hit just .278 after the break.

Prado has been used throughout his pro career at either third or second, so there will likely be a bit of an adjustment period for him, which may hinder him slightly at the plate. Prado is one of the best pure ballplayers I've seen in recent years, though, so any hindrance should be short-lived and he should be back to what we saw last year in no time.

The Braves are counting on Prado to be the catalyst for this lineup in the leadoff spot and for him to learn to play left field on an everyday basis.   

While I'm not expecting him to hit .320 over the year, I would like to see him continue to hit over .300 with his good on-base percentage.

Prado is extremely valuable to a Braves team that lacks a true leadoff hitter and an injury or a slow start for him would really set this team back a bit.