Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jose Constanza over Jason Heyward?

Is Fredi Gonzalez serious? I've watched a few Braves games on and off over the past week and I noticed Constanza getting a lot of playing time. I thought Fredi was just giving Heyward some more time off than usual since Heyward had been hurt. And that may the case and we just aren't aware of it. But Grant Brisbee shows that Constanza isn't just getting mop up time while Heyward recovers.

But there's a pretty good chance that Gonzalez is going down a dark path. Jason Heyward is in a pretty serious gutterfunk right now. He's hitting .222/.317/.403 for the season, and that's a pace he's sustained for the last couple of months. Jason Heyward is also certainly one of the three best outfielders the Braves can play. Those two points aren't mutually exclusive. It wasn't a question before the Braves acquired Michael Bourn or while Chipper Jones' injuries allowed Martin Prado to shift to third base, but now things are a little fuzzy.

Jones is back, Prado is in left, and Bourn is in center. And in right field ... well, that's up in the air. Heyward has started three of the last eight games in right, yielding significant time to Jose Constanza. Now, we can do this the stat way or the scout way. First, here's what Constanza has done in the minors:

Its great that Constanza is having a really good couple of weeks. And its fun that his name is close to Costanza, as in George from Seinfeld. But its hard to justify not giving Heyward the vast majority of at bats. Remember, Fredi had Jason hitting 6th in the lineup to start the year instead of 2nd where he put the very mediocre Nate McClouth. So its almost as if Fredi doesn't understand Heyard's value. Granted, he has had a bad season so far this year. But the guy got on base 39% of the time last year as a rookie. He has issues but he has a ton of potential. Surely enough that Constanza shouldn't be getting the significant amount of playing time he has over the past few weeks. Luckily for Fredi it has worked. But as Brisbee says, I'm not betting on Constanza being better in the long run.

3 comments:

  1. While there's obviously no way that Costanza will keep it up (hello 400 BABIP) there's a point in actually playing him, for now. The Braves are in the thick of a playoff race, in theory anyway. If Costanza can stay hot through the playoffs, it would be a huge help, considering he's put up only .3 less WAR than Heyward in a 6th of the playing time Heyward had. Of course if Costanza is still headed out there once he regresses to the mean, that'd be extremely foolish.

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  2. I guess I was worried Heyward wouldn't get enough at bats to break out of his funk and get into a rhythm. Or I guess the more sabermetric way of putting it is that I think Heyward might need more at bats in order to progress to the mean. But you're probably right. As long as it doesn't mess with Heyward's head its probably the smart bet to play Costanza while he's hot.

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  3. He might, but there's also a cost/benefit. I'd be surprised, and perhaps even dismayed if Heyward couldn't deal with the new circumstances. Someone needs to work with him though because he's popping up a hell of a lot more in place of line drives this year. His BABIP blows, but I don't see a regression (statistically speaking, as in revert) to 2010 because his batted ball profile is atrocious. The fact he's managed to be about average is pretty cool though, but someone needs to work on his swing. Take the time now to get him right on the side, and once Costanza comes back down, plug Heyward back in, would be my idea.

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