I told myself 100 times last night that I wasn’t going to write a story about this. I said that blowing it up into a bigger deal then it actually is, always a bad idea. But as I’m sitting here at my computer I can’t help but wonder something. Who is the Braves right fielder? Is it Jason Heyward? Or is it Jose Constanza?
Now I live in New England so I can’t even claim to have more exposure then my fellow Braves fans who are from the south, but I have heard A LOT of mixed feelings on this subject. I can’t remember the last time the Braves fan base was so divided on something like this. Now there are two different arguments to this situation and to be honest I believe both of them make sense. One of the things I love about the Braves fan base is that were generally very reasonable. Our points are usually very valid and we just want what’s best for our team.
Argument #1: Jose Constanza should be the right fielder. He has proved he can handle big league pitching and he brings a ton of speed to our line up. The one thing about speed is it never slumps and affects so many different aspects of the game. With Bourn and Constanza in the line up our opponents have to worry about extreme speed at the top and bottom of the order. Constanza can steal a ton of bases and beat out infield hits. His speed also helps him to field his position. The biggest and simplest part of this argument is that Constanza is HOT RIGHT NOW. Play the hot bat while it’s hot. This team needs to win now because were capable of competing for a world series right now. You don’t play .600 baseball by accident.
Argument #2: Jason Heyward needs to be in right field. Heyward is younger then Constanza and has been said to be the future of this franchise. There for he needs to be in the line up and getting at bats. The only way to get out of a slump is to get plate appearances. No one has ever broken out of a slump sitting on the bench. Heyward, as we saw last night possess some serious pop in his bat. He is a lot more likely to hit a 3 run home run in a big spot then Constanza is. We don’t want Heyward to lose his groove completely because of lack of at bats, thus making the slump even worse.
Both sides are very passionate about their sides. People are very upset that Heyward isn’t playing and other people don’t want a struggling Heyward in the line up. Some people love Constanza while other people are happy when he’s on the bench.
The bottom line is these are two different types of players. It’s like comparing Derek Jeter to Albert Pujols. They are in the line up to do two completely different things. It doesn’t mean that they both can’t be talented players, it just means that they have two very different ways of doing things.
The stats match up like this:
Jose Constanza: 23 games / 78 at bats / 18 runs / 29 hits / 7 steals / .372avg / .417obp
Jason Heyward: 99 games / 321 at bats / 42 runs/ 72 hits / 6 steals / .224avg / .314obp
The first thing that should jump out to you in fairness is the sample size. Constanza has played in basically a 1/4 of the games that Heyward has played in. So most people will say that the chance of Constanza keeping up this pace would be very unlikely and boarder line impossible.
But lets be fair to Constanza here. Yes he’s only played in 23 games. However he doesn’t have to keep his average at .372 to prove a point. If he kept up this pace in other categories such as stolen bases. if he played in 99 games like Heyward he would possibly have 28 steals right now. He would certainly pass 30 steals for the season as a full time player because speed DOES NOT slump.
Constanza’s batting average could drop down to .310 or even .305 which would be a lot more “normal” and he’d still be way ahead of Heyward. I do feel that some people have it out for Constanza because of his journeyman status. Here comes this 28 year old career minor league player, who has basically taken our future superstars job.
The thing is Jason Heyward has not voiced any concerns over it. He knows that he is going to have to win his job back by playing better. Last night was a very good start and we’ll have to see if he’s in the line up more often once Constanza comes back .
Yes Jason Heyward had a great rookie campaign but so do a lot of people. One year does not make you a super star that deserves a spot in the line up everyday. Dan Uggla didn’t get benched because he had proven time and time again that he is one of the best second baseman in all of baseball. He made a name for himself in Florida which allowed him to ride out his hitting slump on the field instead of the bench.
I think the over all offense was producing at a higher level with Constanza in the line up. I’m not looking at them as individuals here because I’m a much bigger Atlanta Braves fan then I am a fan of any single player. I like what Constanza brought to the line up. I think his speed produced a lot of runs and kept defenses off balanced. Whenever Constanza put the ball in play he had a chance to get on base. That’s not the case with Heyward. Speedy players very rarely slump for long periods of time because they can bunt for hits and beat out routine ground balls.
I believe that Heyward is the future right fielder for the Braves. However I think that Fredi has to play the HOT bat. It’s not different in any other sport, the player who’s hot RIGHT NOW plays. Fredi could not sit at the podium after a Braves loss and explain why he has a red hot bat sitting on the bench so that he can get Heyward at bats. It’s not like Heyward is sitting on the bench for weeks at a time. He’s in the line up at least once a week so he is still getting at bats.
By: Bob McVinua