Atlanta Braves: Who is the Better Fit At Third Base?

By Brad Stiene
Kim Klement-USATODAY Sports

With Atlanta Braves‘ beloved third baseman Chipper Jones retiring, the movement of Martin Prado and not a solid third basemen in the minor leagues, the Braves are looking to two players to fill the void the Jones left behind in Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco.

So since Jones is gone, who in fact does get the nod at third base? Let’s compare Johnson and Francisco.

With Johnson, he has had a very respectable career at the hot corner. He can bring you some great defense and brings you a better glove than Francisco can as well as a better range than Jones would have given you. That’s not saying Jones wasn’t a great third basemen as his career got on (because that is down right stupid to say), but with Jones’ inability to maneuver like he once did, Johnson can come right in and fill in better than Francisco could on the defensive side.

With Johnson being a better glove, the knock on him would would be the offensive side–if you even want to call it that. Last season he hit .281 with 15 home runs and 76 RBI, but struck out a whopping 132 times and and only drew 31 walks. This was while playing for a terrible Houston Astros team, and a better, but not a lot better, Arizona Diamondbacks team.

Dan Shirey-USATODAY Sports

In the case for Francisco, he has been known on the defensive side as very, very lazy and a bit of an overweight-type of player. Although he has slimmed down, Francisco is still a liability of the defensive side of the ball. I’ve seen him play many, many times during his time as a Cincinnati Red and, well, it was a struggle to watch. The same carried over last season during as Brave. I still have to give a thumbs up to the case of Johnson over Francisco in this category.

On the offensive side of things, Francisco carries the power that would make a donkey jealous. He has the ability to put a ball way up into the stands if he connects and he also swings like he wants to every time (seriously I duck every time he swings). There was a time where Francisco actually put one out of Great American Ball Park (literally…I kid you not). Last season Francisco hit .234 with nine home runs and 32 RBI with 70 strike outs while being a platoon player for Jones.

So with that being all said, I have to give the nod to Chris Johnson over Juan Francisco. I like the opportunity that Johnson gives the Braves more than Francisco does. It’s not a knock on Francisco, it’s just the fact he can be a defensive liability. But who knows what goes through Fredi Gonzalez‘s mind. Only time will tell.

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