Georgia can hit! At least we know Georgie can hit in triple-A. Atlanta Braves outfielder Jose Constanza captured the International League batting title this year, playing in 88 games for the triple-A Gwinnett Braves. Constanza hit .314 for the G-Braves, including a Gwinnett franchise record 22-game hitting streak (June 22 to July 19) and league-best 38-game on-base streak (June 20 to August 21) to achieve the top batting average.
But Constanza is no stranger to hitting well at triple-A. His .314 average this year is actually below his career triple-A average of .315. His batting averages the last three years at triple-A have been .319, .312, and .314. Everyone knows he can catch fire at any moment, like he did during his early Major League time in Atlanta last year. Of course, he can also slump in streaks, like he did last September when he hit below .200.
The jury is still out on whether Constanza can hit like this on a regular basis at the Major League level... and even if he did, would he provide enough additional on-base and slugging to be above replacement level? I'm positive that someone out there has an opinion on that....
Constanza is the second Gwinnett player to win the award in the franchise's four-year history, joining Barbaro Canizares who won in 2010 with a .341 batting average. Barbaro, by the way, has played the last two season in Independent Leagues in Mexico and Canada after his release from the Braves organization at the end of 2010. He hit .396 last year in Mexico, and combined to hit .353 between Mexico and Canada this season. Surely some AL club could try him out at DH (paging Dayton Moore).