There have been a lot of changes in Atlanta Braves world going into this season but no change could be as big as the retirement of Chipper Jones. That left such a big hole at third base that it clearly seemed to be a no-win situation. No matter who stepped into the spot they wouldn’t match Chipper. As we get closer to the final weeks of Spring Training, it seems that the situation might not be nearly as bad as it appeared to be.
The two players going for the position are well documented as being Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson. Francisco is a lefty and Johnson is right-handed. I have made it very clear in previous articles as well as conversations that I do not like the idea of a platoon system. I would much rather see one guy win the job. However, this situation is proving to be quite unique.
Fredi Gonzalez has two very good third basemen. Francisco has more power potential but has improved his overall hitting ability this past calendar year to be a more all around hitter. Johnson has more experience and has faced both left and right-handed pitchers in the major leagues already. He is an all around type hitter but has less power potential.
They are both solid at third base with a few glimpses of trouble now and then. It’s nothing too bad considering this is the spring. In the end what Gonzalez has are two nearly identical players to choose from. Their differences offset each other perfectly so that they actually complement one another. What does that mean? I can’t believe I’m going to say this.
It might make more sense to go with a straight platoon at third. The Braves would be the only team I have ever liked the idea for but honestly that seems to be the best option if both guys could handle it. Obviously if one could not, they wouldn’t get half of the job anyway. It kind of stinks for me but for Gonzalez, the platoon means that he has a can’t-lose situation where he once seemed to have a no-win. It’s honestly quite remarkable.