I have heard some rumors that the Atlanta Braves might be searching for some outfield depth in Oakland A's player Josh Willingham. With all of the recent injuries I believe that the Braves could actually be flirting with the possibility of acquiring the veteran outfielder. While this is just speculation, I would like to introduce some of you fans to Josh Willingham's numbers and let you decide if the Braves should pull the trigger on this deal.
Willingham has had a good career and his numbers do not lie. Willingham sports a .262 career batting average, .363 career on base percentage, and a .470 career slugging percentage. Over the past five years Willingham has hit 16, 24, 15, 21 and 26 home runs, so if the deal were made the Atlanta Braves would have a good idea of the type of power that comes with the acquisition.
Willingham would add a right-handed presence to the Braves lineup that could be a huge advantage. With the Braves biggest power hitters being mostly lefties in Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, and Eric Hinske, having another right handed power bat to compliment Dan Uggla could reek havoc to opposing managers.
Willingham always brings the possibility of hitting a home run to the plate in any situation. Josh already has 10 home runs this year, along with 10 doubles, through only 60 games. Willingham would certainly be an improvement over Nate McLouth, Jordan Schafer, Matt Young, and Diory Hernandez.
Have you ever heard the saying, "Outfield is an offensive position"? Well this is certainly the case with Willingham. While Willingham has not been a terrible outfielder, he has at times been the subject of some defensive criticism. Willingham has a career fielding percentage of .983, which is not stellar, but lets compare that to a few players we might be a little more familiar with.
Jason Heyward is currently the proud owner of a .977 career fielding percentage, and Martin Prado has a career outfield fielding percentage of .981. Willingham's .983 doesn't seem so bad now does it? I believe that Josh would be willing to hold his own in the outfield enough to make a much larger impact on offense.
Josh Willingham is not a very speedy player. Willingham usually steals between three to eight bases per year, which is not very impressive, but not terrible. Remember my quote, however, that ,"Outfield is an offensive position." Josh Willingham would be coming to the Braves to present a right handed force in the lower half of their lineup. You can never have enough deep threats in your lineup so if the Braves were to make this trade it could be a huge offensive production booster down the stretch. In my opinion this could be a good trade for the Braves at the right price, but only at the right price.