Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Braves are off to a hot start this year, and rookie centerfielder Jordan Schafer has done an excellent job both defensively and offensively. There's also been some talk of moving Schafer to the top of the order to utilize his speed. It's not a bad idea, but what kind of production could the Braves expect from the 22 year old at the lead off spot, and would his speed make up for his inexperience? Let's check his comps and find out.
I found a nice group of comparables for Schafer, and the news is part good and part bad for Braves fans depending on their perspective.
The good news is that the majority of the above players have shown a great deal of talent, and at least 3 of them (Sosa, Hunter, and Gomez) have proven to be adequate to above average major league ball players. Also, of the 7 players, Schafer posted some of the highest power totals (although, he was suspended last year for PED substance abuse), and his plate discipline was pretty good as well.
And now, the bad news. Of the above players that have seen significant time at the major league level, none of them would have made a very good lead off hitter as a rookie. Here are their major league production totals.
If we stretch out the home runs and extra base hit totals to 600 plate appearances, Schafer could be good for 12 to 18 home runs this year, and 30 or more doubles and triples, with 20 plus stolen bases. Overall, those aren't bad numbers, but with an average on-base percentage of just .303, the Braves would be much better off leaving Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson at the top of their order for the remainder of the season (.373 and .355 career OBPs respectively). The batting average also projects as less than ideal.
So, maybe Schafer isn't quite ready for taking over the lead off spot for the Braves, but it looks like he has a promising career ahead of him. If Schafer keeps up with his comps, in his prime he could hit between .280 and .300 with 20 to 30 home runs and 20 to 30 stolen bases per year. ...Read more