23-year old lefty swinging Jason Heyward had a brutal sophomore slump in 2011 for the Braves after having a very impressive rookie year in 2010. Heyward played in 128 games for the Braves last year and he was 90 for 396 (.227 avg, .708 OPS) with 50 runs scored, 14 homers, 42 RBIs and 9 stolen bases. He has now played in 270 games in his first two years with the Braves and he is 234 of 916 (.255 avg, .789 OPS) with 133 runs scored, 32 homers, 114 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Heyward had 6 errors and 4 assists in 122 games in RF for the Braves last year while showing below average range. I look for Heyward to bounce back big time in 2012 with the bat.
34-year old righty swinging Matt Diaz can give Heyward a break against tough lefty starters in 2012. He played in 116 games for the Braves & Pirates last year and he was 66 of 251 (.263 avg, .625 OPS) with 16 runs scored, 0 homers, 20 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. Diaz has now played in 527 games in his first six years with the Braves and he is 433 of 1,420 (.305 avg, .810 OPS) with 175 runs scored, 41 homers, 181 RBIs and 29 stolen bases. Diaz has now played in 675 games in his first 9 years in the majors and he is 519 of 1,755 (.296 avg, .780 OPS) with 201 runs scored, 43 homers, 212 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. Diaz had 3 assists and 1 error in 54 games in RF last year but he showed pretty poor range.
Eric Hinske and Jose Constanza can also handle playing RF. Hinske played in 16 games in RF for the Braves last year and he had 1 assist and 0 errors while showing below average range. Constanza played in 16 error-free games with 0 assists while showing off out of this world range.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE RF IN 2012: B+