Brooks Conrad of the Atlanta Braves hits a 9th inning home run against the New York Mets at Turner Field on June 16, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
He vaulted into Atlanta Braves fans' hearts with his penchant for big pinch hits during the 2010 season. He broke our hearts with his big errors in the 2010 postseason. In 2011, he seemed to disappear, though he still had a productive year as a pinch hitter. With all that Brooks Conrad has brought to the Braves over the last two seasons, some think he may not have a spot on next year's team. Here is MLB's Mark Bowman:
Saw some chatter about Brooks Conrad on Twitter this past weekend and it might have been sarcastic. But for those of you projecting next year's roster, I wouldn't reserve a spot for Conrad. He doesn't seem to be much of a factor in the plans for next year's club.
I'm not sure how Bowman came to this conclusion, and I'm not sure Conrad deserves to be relegated to having to make the team again. Remember that he had a terrible spring training in 2011, but still make the club, based largely on what he had done as a pinch hitter in 2010. Conrad didn't really disappoint in that department during the 2011 season, as he had just as many pinch hits (13) in only four more pinch hit at-bats. All of this while getting much less playing time overall under Fredi Gonzalez than under Bobby Cox -- 11 fewer games, 55 fewer plate appearances.
Brooks got on base at about the same rate, he got the same number of pinch hits, he slugged the same number of pinch hit home runs (3). For his career he is tied with Joe Adcock for the franchise record in career pinch-hit homers as a Brave with seven. As far as the art of pinch hitting goes, Conrad is pretty good. He'll take a walk in that situation, but he's also a power threat.
Perhaps this is a case of too many pinch hit type hitters currently under contract for the Braves -- Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz. The team may want to use that extra spot for a more defensive minded backup, rather than an all-hit-no-defense kind of player as Conrad has proven himself to be.
If Conrad is not included in the Braves roster plans for 2012, that seems like a raw deal for a proven contributor.