Atlanta Braves: Meet the Players Keeping No. 1 Team Afloat
Atlanta Braves' Bench
The Atlanta Braves have had their fair share of injuries this season. In fact, they’ve had to send players to the disabled list 18 times so far in 2013.
The team has depending on bench players to carry the team through rough times, like the ones the Braves find themselves in right now. On Sunday, only four regular starters found themselves in the lineup. This is what the Braves lineup looked like on Sunday:
Jordan Schafer 8 Elliot Johnson 4 Freddie Freeman 3 Justin Upton 9 Gerald Laird 2 Joey Terdoslavich 7 Andrelton Simmons 6 Paul Janish 5 Mike Minor 1
That lineup scored five runs against Lance Lynn and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They also prevented a four-game sweep by St. Louis. The Braves’ bench has been great this year. In the beginning of the season, there were a lot of holes in the Atlanta lineup, but some no-name players filled the roles quite well.
There's guys like Ramiro Pena, who played multiple infield positions just in the early stages of the season. There's also Gerald Laird, who planned on playing more often, but has seen limited time on the field in the wake of Evan Gattis. Then there’s some of the new guys the Braves have picked up in the wake of seemingly endless injuries.
So who are these shadowy heroes, whose names perplex you when the lineup is announced? Follow the slides to learn more about one of the best benches in baseball.
Joseph Terdoslavich is a switch-hitting outfielder from Sarasota, Florida. The 24-year old has appeared in 36 games for the Braves this season, hitting for a .281/.379/.351 slash line in 57 at-bats. He’s got decent speed and is a reliable pinch-hitter. He rarely strikes out and he walks quite often.
Gerald Laird came into the season expecting to play in place of Brian McCann while he recovered. However, with the emergence of Evan Gattis, Laird was moved to the third-string role. He’s only appeared in 37 games this season, but he has been reliable with a .289/.381/.400 slash line. Laird had been Julio Teheran’s primary catcher for the first half of the season, helping to develop him.
Ramiro Pena got decent playing time in the first half of the season, filling in for Freddie Freeman at first and occasionally filling holes at infield positions. He did well, hitting for a .278/.330/.443 slash line, and had a few clutch home runs as well. Pena has been out since mid-June with a right shoulder impingement which required surgery on his labrum. He’s out for the season, but he made a big difference early on for the Braves.
Tyler Pastornicky gets a nod as well. He recently had his season ended when he tore his ACL colliding with Jason Heyward in the outfield. With Dan Uggla out, Pastornicky was going to get some decent playing time. Always reliable on offense, he put up a .300/.323/.333 slash line in the 20 games he played in.
Paul Janish has been in the Braves organization for some time. A great defender, he played at shortstop in 2012 until the Braves front office realized that Andrelton Simmons was better at batting and defending. He’s a good guy to fill in holes defensively, but he’s terrible at the plate. This season, he has a .133 batting average in 30 at-bats. No, he doesn’t walk much either.
The Braves’ troubles in the infield caused them to pick up some new faces. Elliot Johnson was picked up off waivers just a few days ago. He had been released by the Kansas City Royals. He’s pretty bad with a .186/.222/.243 slash line -- there’s no way to sugar coat this one. I’m still holding my breath on Dan Uggla coming back and putting his new eyes to work.
Todd Cunningham is a young guy just coming up out of the Braves’ minor league system. He’s a right fielder who has only appeared in seven games thus far, but he got a hit in his first at-bat. In seven at-bats, he has a .286 on-base percentage.
Jordan Schafer helped this team a lot during the first half. He hit for a .309 batting average before his injury which sidelined him until August. Since his return, he's been playing in place of Jason Heyward and has hit for a .132 BA. He got two hits on Sunday, including an RBI double -- hopefully that's a sign of more to come.