Best & Worst of the Past 10 Years: Infielders

Kevin C. Cox

ICYMI, I discussed an intro to this mini-series. I also included the "best and worst" pitchers and catchers. Today, we take a look at infielders.

First Base

WAR: 16.4 – Rank: 22 – Leader: Cardinals

Top 3:

Bottom 3:

With only three seasons under his belt, Freeman has already amassed more value than any other Braves 1B during their respective tenures. Offensively, he has been a force especially last season. In the field, well, I didn't really want to get into it, but he's been quite poor (but improving!). Texiera had an unreal 157 games with the team. Although the trade for him was regrettable, he put up 5.6 wins in basically one full season with the team. I will never forget the tear he went on after being acquired, hitting 10 home runs in the month of August. LaRoche had two separate stints with the team; one from 2004-2006 and then was re-aquired during the 2009 season. He also went on a hot stretch after being traded for in 2009, posting a .325/.401/.557 triple slash with 13 home runs in just 57 games.

On the flip side of the coin, Thorman top the "worst" list. His only MLB experience came with the Braves in 2006 and 2007 where he put up a putrid .260 OBP. He was a drain on an offensive heavy position, so one could make the argument that Braves may have felt the need to go all in on Texiera during the 2007 season. Hessman, who would be a first ballot MiLB HOF'er, could never find his way in limited time with the Braves. I guess it was fitting that his first MLB hit was a HR, considering he currently has 370 of them minors. Wison, who was once a decent hitter for the Pirates, couldn't stick it in Atlanta and never found his way back to the majors after his 2007 season. The position has been a bit revolving door, so hopefully it turns out that the Braves have found their long term answer in Freeman.

Second Base

WAR: 33.0 – Rank: 6 – Leader: Phillies

Top 3:

Bottom 3:

Here is one of the positions where Prado would have taken top honor. Instead, Marcus Giles played three seasons during this time frame, which included a monster 2005 season where he put up a 119 wRC+ and played above average defense. Johnson, a fan favorite around here, played four season before oddly becoming non-tendered after two very solid seasons prior to a down season in 2009. Johnson was good for a .346 OBP and rated exactly average on defense. "Best" doesn't exactly get thrown around when talking Dan Uggla as of late, but his 2001 and 2012 seasons weren't bad - they just weren't good enough to warrant the $ and length of his contract. It will be interesting to see is he passes Johnson by seasons end.

Braves fans fell in love with Orr after he his .300 in 112 games in 2005. He struggled in the ned two seasons and was never able to hit enough to warrant playing time. Jesse Garcia was a gem I honestly forgot existed. In 118 PA in 2004, he hit .252, only managing to coax one walk. In the final spot, I used some user discretion. Technically, Phil Gosselin finished with -0.1 fWAR last season, but I thought it was extremely unfair to call him one of the "worst" after he recorded two hits, a walk and an IBB in seven plate appearances. So sorry Nick Green, even though you provided positive value but you're it. He wasn't really that terrible for the role he played in 2004. If you want to put Brooks Conrad in the worst category, go for it - but man you will have a surprise coming for you.

Shortstop

WAR: 30.0 – Rank: 11 – Leader: Phillies

Top 3:

Bottom 3:

No Andrelton, yet. A 4-win season in 2014 would vault him to the top of the list which quite amazing. Escobar was a force offensively and defensively before being shipped to Toronto after he struggled in 2010 to go along with reports suggesting he didn't fit the "clubhouse culture". Renteria but together two very good seasons with the team. In 2007, he posted a .332/.390/.470 triple-slash in 124 games. Looking back, I think he was the perfect gap between Furcal and Escobar. As for Furcal, it seems like forever since he's been a Brave, only 2004 & 2005 were included is this list. He was one of the last true leadoff men then Braves have had for an extended period of time. To this day, he was one of the most exciting players in recent Braves history both at the plate and in the field.

Hernandez' only MLB experience came with the Braves. From 2009-2011, he saw a total of 75 games only able to manage a .195 OBP. After multiple seasons in the organizations minor league system, he was never able to adjust to big league pitching. So far, it's been a pretty mad start for Pastornicky. That being said, I think the dude can hit and will play an important backup role with the team in the coming years. Starting him as the SS in felt a bit rushed, but the team really had no other option at the time (Andrelton has yet to play past A-ball). Luckily, they made the switch mid-way through the season and the rest was history. Wilson played 57 games between 2011 & 2012 but didn't hit a lick. He was solid defensive replacement late in games, but just couldn't stick it at the plate.

Third Base

WAR: 46.0 – Rank: 4 – Leader: Mets

Top 3:

Bottom 3:

Unsurprisingly, Chipper Jones has provided the most value to the Atlanta Braves over the past decade. There are probability a million different stats and memories I could get into, but what he did over the past decade is almost too good for words. Of course, when you have had player like Chipper, the rest of the best is going to be quite the drop off. As you can see Chris Johnson comes in at number two, after a phenomenal 2013 season. And yes, that is Brooks Conrad in the final spot. A couple things on that - Prado probably produced more value at 3B than everyone but Chipper, but because of the way I decided to group guys like him, he played more innings in LF than at 3B, so that's where his is listed. Juan Francisco also accumulated 1.1 wins, but since Conrad played more innings at 3B than 2B I made an executive decision to put him there. He actually put up a solid 101 wRC+, but it was the defense that he will be (rightfully) remembered for.

It came as a surprise to me how bad DeRosa was in his final year as a Braves (2004). In 118 games, he put up a .239/.293/.320 triple slash and was horrendous on defense, committing 10 errors. He was able to turn his career around during his post-Braves career, but he could have single handedly been the reason for Chipper coming back to the 3B from the outfield. Marte also put up a poor 2005 season in limited playing time. In 24 games, yes a super small sample, he put up a remarkable -8 DRS combined with a .227 OBP at the plate. Woodward signed a one year deal with the team, but was terrible both offensively and defensively. To his credit he played all four infield positions, but had the lowest average in the league from a position player.

Tomorrow I'll run through the outfield positions.

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