He burst onto the scene in the season’s first two months, filling in behind the plate, at first base and in left field, while tallying a .281 batting average, 12 home runs and 32 RBIs.
But thanks to a crouching batting stance that makes it difficult for him to reach high fastballs — and specifically the fact that opposing pitchers have learned that he can’t make contact with such pitches — Gattis has hit just .188 with three homers and 15 RBIs in June, July and August combined.
In the process, Gattis, who is called El Oso Blanco, which translates to “The White Bear” in English, has looked more like a koala bear.
Consequently, the 27 year old’s playing time has dwindled, even since Braves outfielder Jason Heyward suffered a broken jaw when he was struck by a pitch from New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese on Wednesday. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has chosen to play B.J. Upton and Jordan Schafer more than Gattis, which, at least in terms of the latter, would have seemed like a ludicrous idea in April or May.
I have no doubt that somewhere inside of Gattis is the ability to move past this adversity, as he has certainly overcome plenty of it in his personal life. If he indeed wants a chance to become the Braves’ everyday catcher next year, with fellow backstop Brian McCann set to become a free agent this offseason, he needs to return to his early-season form stat.