In my first week of the Atlanta Braves Player Profiles I looked at one of the most promising short stops in the game of baseball in Andrelton Simmons. This week I am looking at a player that could be as dominant in the game yet in a different way than Simmons. In the batter’s box, Evan Gattis could transform himself from a stellar rookie in 2013 into an All-Star caliber player in 2014.
With a full time job at his original position of catcher in 2014, Gattis may be able to settle into a routine — something he was not able to do in 2013. He played in 48 games in left field, 39 games at catcher, four at first base, two at DH and made 13 pinch-hit appearances. It’s clear that Fredi Gonzalez wanted to get him into the lineup as much as he could, but it could be possible that moving him around the field defensively caused him to spend some extra energy and focus at the plate.
In his 105 total games, Gattis hit .243 and ended up finishing seventh in the Rookie of the Year award race. He had a total of 86 base hits with 21 doubles and 21 home runs. That’s 42 out of 86 hits that either scored a run or put himself in scoring position. He clearly has the ability to hit 25-30 home runs in a full season, but there is no way to predict what he could possibly do if he could focus on playing one position full-time and stay healthy. Where Gattis was the scariest hitter in the league last year was when he wasn’t playing at all. Yeah, that’s right. As a pinch-hitter, Gattis had ten official at bats, recording six total hits and four of those six hits were home runs. Teams around the league would probably rather pitch to him four times a game instead of once in the ninth inning.
At times it seems that Gattis can be a little bit of a liability behind the plate. However, his play at catcher is much better than some that we saw of him in left field last year. His arm has gotten better as he has matured, however. Brian McCann may have been marginally better at throwing out runners, yet I have little doubt that Gattis will fill in just fine behind the plate and get the job done.
He can be a player that Gonzalez can build his lineup with alongside Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton. He can also be a guy that his teammates can count on and a really strong character guy around the clubhouse. Whether he’s in the lineup or coming off the bench, teams will dread pitching to him. Either way the Braves’ fans will be loving it throughout 2014.