Is left field something to worry about?

Matt Diaz

Ryan Langerhans is struggling. Matt Diaz continues to hit. Will this mean a change in the left field situation? The Braves Show's Bill Shanks has more.

It's easy to pick apart a baseball team, even when they have the best record in baseball at 8-3. But that's what we do, right? It's natural to look at a team and see what might develop into a problem as the season progresses.

I think after the first eleven games we can look at left field and raise an eyebrow just a bit. Ryan Langerhans looks horrible right now. He's hitting only .100 and can't buy a hit. But Matt Diaz is doing what Matt Diaz does: hitting.

Diaz is at .375 right now, 9-24 on the season. It's still early and we know he won't hit .375 all season, but his history shows us this is not completely out of the ordinary. Matt Diaz is a hitter, and so far this season that's exactly what he's doing.

He hit .315 in his minor league career in 2854 at bats. Last season, his first full season in the big leagues, Diaz hit .327 in 297 at bats. So just how good might he be if given the chance to play every single game?

Diaz has been apart of a platoon since he became a Brave, splitting time with Langerhans. As the right-handed hitter he gets most of his playing time against southpaw pitchers. But he's done pretty well against righties too, hitting .400 this season (4-10) and .358 last season (54-151).

So this might tell us something. Diaz might be ready for the everyday job, and if Langerhans keeps struggling it'll be an easy decision.

The Braves would probably prefer Langerhans to be the man in left, but he just can't turn that corner offensively. There's no doubt he can play the outfield better than most people not named Andruw Jones, but Langerhans has failed to prove that he can even be apart of a platoon situation.

I think Langerhans is one of those players that just might not be able to adjust to a platoon. He's the type of guy that might need to either play everyday or simply be a fourth outfielder. If he were with Tampa Bay or Kansas City he might get that chance to be a regular, but his chances with the Braves might be running out.

So will Bobby Cox give Diaz the chance to play everyday, or will he continue this platoon? How long will it last?

One player to keep in mind here is Brandon Jones. If left field continues to be a problem, then Jones might become an option. He made a great impression on Cox in spring training and now he's off to a fast start in Double-A Mississippi. The Braves believe Jones could be a future starter in the big leagues, so if he shows he's ready Jones might be someone the team turns to if this Diaz/Langerhans platoon does not work.

But if Diaz keeps hitting, Cox will have to at least give him a chance to play everyday. Langerhans looks lost at the plate right now and is running out of chances, so left field will continue to be a position to watch for the Braves until there is some resolution.




Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, 105.5 the Fan in Macon, and the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.


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