The Braves probably wouldn't be in the position they are in now without Jordan Schafer. For a guy who most felt would really have to play well in spring training in order to secure a spot on the roster, he's been a very pleasant surprise.
Little has gone right for Schafer since his debut as a top prospect in 2009. He injured his wrist a week into the season and did not see regular playing time until nearly two years later. After being dealt to the Astros as part of the Michael Bourn "trade", he struggled as a starter for the worst team in baseball. He also got caught with some really strong Reese's.
Schafer was a -0.6 WAR player over the course of 106 games in 2012, making him one of the 15-worst players in baseball. He hit .211/.297/.294, which was pretty close to his career line at the time.
In 53 games with the Braves this season, Schafer is batting .305/.402/.438 with a 139 wRC+, a team-high seven steals and 0.8 WAR. That's pretty remarkable for a guy who came into the season with negative value over the course of his career.
An argument can be made that he's been the Braves' second-most valuable outfielder this season. Three months ago, I'm not even sure Jordan Schafer thought that would be possible.
All of this said, it's important to temper expectations with the 26-year-old outfielder. It takes about 15 seconds of digging on his FanGraphs page to show some serious regression is due. He will continue to be the team's 4th outfielder unless injuries hit hard.
At the same time, though, it's pretty clear this isn't the same guy who faced felony charges for marijuana possession about 20 months ago. Schafer has grown up both on and off the field, and his play is a big reason why the Braves are 43-30.
Will it continue? Probably not. Baseball has a way of balancing out over time. Just enjoy the ride and know the signing of Schafer was yet another savvy move by Frank Wren and the Braves that has paid off in a big way.