Here is a look at where the Atlanta Braves rank by position compared to the rest of the National League.
Catcher: The Braves, and Brian McCann, are 1st in OPS by almost 80 points over second place. The Braves hold a dominant offensive edge is the NL at the catching position. This is also helped greatly by a more-than-capable backup in David Ross.
First Base: On the season our first baseman rank 11th in OPS, but that has obviously been greatly improved as of late since Adam LaRoche has posted a 1.186 OPS since joining the Braves. The fact that he has been so good lately, and we're still only 11th, underscores how pitiful Casey Kotchman was when compared against the offense that the rest of the league is getting out of their first basemen.
Second Base: Even with the early season struggles of Kelly Johnson, Atlanta second basemen are 4th in the NL in OPS with a .782. Again, this illustrates how valuable Martin Prado has been, since Kelly has a .683 OPS on the year, and Prado an .815 (see note below). Good work from Omar Infante while playing second and Brooks Conrad also contribute to the good overall number.
Third Base: This is mainly Chipper Jones, but the number is brought down by some bad offense when Prado and Infante play third. Atlanta ranks 6th in the NL, but if it were just Chipper, they would probably rank somewhere around 3rd or 4th.
|A Note here about Prado and Infante: As a second baseman, Prado has a .922 OPS, Infante a .926, but as third basemen Prado stinks it up with a .578 OPS and Infante a .511. Both of them have combined for 110 plate appearances at third, so that is no small number or lack of offense. Strange that their fortunes at the plate turn out so different when they man the hot corner.|
Shortstop: Atlanta ranks 5th here with a .759 OPS, which is clearly a result of way too much playing time going to Diory Hernandez and his .410 OPS. Yunel Escobar's .816 OPS should be good enough for 3rd in the league.
Left Field: Here comes the pitiful. Atlanta's left fielders lead the Atlanta outfield contingent with a .769 OPS which actually ranks 7th in the league.
Center Field: Jordan Schafer is still pulling down this rank, all the way to 14th in the league with a combined .667 OPS, ahead of only Arizona and Cincinnati.
Right Field: A .717 OPS and 15th in the league (next to last, ahead of only San Diego), and believe me, that has improved lately because Jeff Francoeur had a .634 OPS as a member of the Braves this season.
If you want to look at where the problem is with the Braves offense this season, it's in the traditional power positions of first base and the outfield. We seem to have solved first base, and now McLouth, Church, and Diaz should at least get on base and hit for sub-homerun power in the outfield. The problem is that for far too many games we relied on offense from center field, right field, and first base which never materialized. We may be winning games now, but if we don't make the post season, we can point to the first two-thirds of the season where our inept offense from those positions likely cost us the necessary wins to be in contention.