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For Atlanta Braves, Losing Alex Gonzalez Means Immediate Offensive Improvement

December 12th, 2011 at 8:59 PM
By Cody Fields

Now former Atlanta Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez has found his new team in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers. He signed a one-year deal with the National League Central champions with an option for 2013.

The Braves had already planned on Gonzalez's departure. Since arriving in a mid-2010 trade that sent Yunel Escobar to the Toronto Blue Jays, Gonzalez hit 21 home runs and hit .241 in 221 games. What the Braves were most sore about was his .270 on-base percentage in 2011, which was dead last among qualifying NL hitters.

Gonzalez's .250 average with runners in scoring position was nothing to write home about, but the 19 double plays led the team and turned him into a certified rally killer.

And that is why, even though they are losing one of the best shortstop gloves in the Major Leagues, the Braves will automatically improve offensively in 2012.

The Braves were tops in the NL in on-base percentage in 2010 with a .339 rate, even with Gonzalez only compiling a .291 OBP.

As reported by fangraphs.com, Gonzalez also took 40.2 percent of his swings on pitches outside of the strike zone. For reference, Chipper Jones only wasted 22.6 percent of his swings on bad pitches with a career average of 20.6 percent.

Enter Tyler Pastornicky, who has been touted as the Braves' future – at least tentatively – at shortstop.

In 117 games between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, Pastornicky compiled a .359 OBP and hit .314. He did that while swiping 27 bags, something Gonzalez did only twice during his tenure with the Braves.

General manager Frank Wren has been very forthcoming with the Braves' plans to sign a backup shortstop in case Pastornicky sputters out of the gate in 2012. Even if Pastornicky struggles at first, one would figure that his numbers would probably look at least somewhat better than his predecessor's. After all, a .270 OBP is not hard to beat.

Tags: Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB

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