Atlanta Braves Need Ramiro Peña to Return Better in 2014

By Steven Whitaker

In the 2013 season, the Atlanta Braves had arguably one of the deepest benches in all of baseball. Every spot that Fredi Gonzalez needed to fill was seemingly filled with great ease. One of the easiest decisions Gonzalez had to make last year was the decision on who to play off of the bench in the infield.

Before he went on the DL for the rest of the season, Ramiro Peña was one of the most solid bench players in the National League. It was a surprise for people that the Braves signed Peña to a major league contract, but he held up his end of the bargain with his play in 50 games. He played better than he had his entire career, and the Braves will need him to continue his success in 2014.

First off, Peña was surprisingly good at the plate. In his 97 official at bats, he tallied up 27 total hits. Out of those 27, nine of them were for extra bases. He had a career-high slugging percentage of .443, but he also struck out more than twice as often as he walked. As far as his speed is concerned, he isn’t going to blaze the base paths up but he is an average base-runner who can move from first to third on a base hit.

Defensively, Peña was much better than advertised. He didn’t make a single error in his 200+ innings while playing at three different positions. He has pretty good instincts at all positions on the infield and has a strong arm that allows him to play a solid shortstop when Andrelton Simmons needs a day off.

However, I just can’t see Peña pulling it all back together to be as impressive as he was in 2013. Coming back from a torn labrum, I feel like he may struggle defensively with his arm strength and his work at the plate will probably suffer as well. He did an awesome job for the team for 50 games and there is no telling how good he could have been if he was never injured, but the Braves may end up using Tyler Pastornicky as a more reliable option off of the bench.

Steven Whitaker is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @CoachStevenWhit, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google 

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