Over the coming days, I will write a short review about the performance the Braves received from different positions, as well as what to expect from the team in the future.
Up next, the third basemen
Starter: Chipper Jones
After challenging for a batting title in 2007, Chipper won it in 2008 by hitting .364. While playing in 128 games, Chipper showed that while healthy, he is still among the elite players in the major leagues.
Chipper flirted with .400 for a long stretch in the beginning of the season but eventually was unable to keep that pace. As great a year as he had, Chipper only managed to hit 22 homers, which was partly due to his injuries. Between July and September, he only hit six homers. As a switch hitter, Chipper managed to hit .394 against left-handed pitching (as well as .349 against right-handed pitchers).
With injury problems continuing to mount, Chipper showed that he can still help the Braves a great deal, but may not always be available.
Martin Prado, Brent Lillibridge, Omar Infante, and Ruben Gotay all filled in behind Chipper at third. All of these players have been discussed previously, as they all also played other positions in the infield. Because of this, I won't go into too much detail about the performance of any player.
The question isn't going to be whether or not Chipper can continue to perform as he is getting older. The question is whether or not Chipper will be able to play enough games to make a difference. I expect Chipper to again play through some injuries, and I am optimistic that he could play in 130 games.
The Braves will have Martin Prado (unless he gets moved into a starting middle-infield role) or Omar Infante to back Chipper up. Both proved that they could play extremely well last year, but either one will be a huge drop-off, especially in the power department, while Chipper is out.
Jon Gilmore may be the Braves' third baseman of the future. He was a compensation draft pick in 2007. In 2008, he tore up the Appalachian League but struggled in his first stop in Rome. He is still only 20 years old and should continue to develop in the minors for the next couple of years.
Eric Campbell has also been ranked among their top 25 prospects, but he is coming off a season in which he hit only .255 in his second season at Myrtle Beach. Although he is a level ahead of Gilmore, Gilmore will likely have a brighter future with the club.