Offensive MVP & LVP of the Month:
MVP: Edgar Renteria - apologies to Chipper Jones, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Diaz, Willie Harris, and Yunel Escobar
LVP: Andruw Jones - apologies to Scott Thorman, Chris Woodward, and Pete Orr
June was a month of survival, and the Braves weathered it better than they weathered last June. Their 13-15 record is actually a bit better than it looks, helped by a five-game winning streak to end the month. The offense was below average, but there were some standouts.
The young guns Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Yunel Escobar continued their good work. Both players hit over .300, with Salty posting a very impressive .327 average. His patience could still use a little work as he posted only 2 walks in 54 plate appearances. He actually walked fewer times than he homered (3). As the new go-to utility infielder and as a backup for Chipper, Escobar provided good defense combined with solid offensive numbers. Escobar also emerged as one member of a possible second base platoon towards the end of the month. Both Escobar and Salty played their ways into platoon roles this month, and if they continue their production will play their way into everyday roles.
One Brave who is hurting the team with his everyday role is Andruw Jones. He is this month's Least Valuable Player and his offense numbers regrettably back that up. The fact that he played in all but one game this month is equally disappointing as we had to have these numbers in the lineup day after day: .143 BA, .211 OBP, .276 SLG, and a team high 25 strikeouts, which keeps him in the top-5 in the NL in strikeouts on the season. What's worse is that Andruw is showing no signs of breaking out of his season-long funk. His batting average for each of the first three months of the season has been going in the wrong direction: .261 (April), .202 (May), .143 (June).
The other Jones, however, has been the complete opposite. When he has been in the lineup, Chipper Jones has been an absolute terror for opposing pitchers. With as many RBI (10) as Andruw has in half the at-bats, Chipper is hitting a robust .411 in June and was the only Braves hitter to have more walks (8) than strikeouts (6). His power numbers were not quite what they were to start the season, but he did improve his hitting with runners on base - something he has struggled with the first two months.
The player who has been the rock of the offense all year continued his solid hitting in June. Edgar Renteria swung the bat with the most consistency in June and his team-high 16 runs and 46 total bases prove his value to the club. The importance of Renteria is furthered by his performance in the clutch. Being a clutch hitter is a difficult thing to measure, but certainly his ability to turn it up a notch in the late innings is proof of his Most Valuable status.
Top NL batting averages in the 7th inning and later:
|Rank||Player, Team||Avg in 7th+|
|1||Chase Utley, PHI||.376|
|2||Edgar Renteria, ATL||.367|
|3||Willy Taveras, HOU||.354|
|3||Hanley Ramirez, FLA||.354|
|5||Jose Reyes, NYM||.348|
Three guys who had an average month were Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, and Jeff Francoeur. All three of their numbers this month were aided by the team offensive explosion and the five game winning streak to end June. Still, McCann (16) and Francoeur (14) were one and two on the team in RBI, as well as being second and third in total bases behind Renteria. McCann paced the club with 4 homeruns, and Kelly Johnson, while he only hit .256, made it on base at a .356 clip thanks to a team-high 13 walks.
Two other guys who have been lighting up the scoreboard lately are the left field duo of Matt Diaz and Willie Harris. Both players spent the month batting in the .350 range, which was actually a drop-off from the previous month. In fact, since the beginning of May, our left fielders have been some of the hottest hitters in baseball.
Top MLB batting averages for LF since April 30th:
|4||Los Angeles (AL)||.332|
Part of that solid average comes from Matt Diaz who is 3rd in the majors in batting since April 30th with a .386 average. Diaz is one of the few who will be sad to see inter-league play go, as he led all National League hitters with a .484 batting average against the American League. He is also solid in when he comes off the bench, leading the majors with 9 pinch hits (9-for-22, .409). If Diaz can add homerun power to his numbers he might be considered one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.
Some of the guys who don't seem to be pulling their weight are the same guys who were struggling last month. Besides Andurw Jones, last month's LVP, Scott Thorman, continued his struggles with a .215 June batting average. Thorman's struggles combined with the need to find a place for Salty in the lineup mean that both will share a platoon at first for the foreseeable future. Thorman's struggles may also mean that the team is less inclined to trade Saltalamacchia with no competent replacement on hand. The combination of Chris Woodward and Pete Orr reached new lows in June. Orr hit just .167 in limited play (18 AB), while Woody hit just .148 in 27 AB. It's probably not worth going on about those two.
Tomorrow I'll take a look at the pitching
Who was the Braves most valuable batter in June?
This poll is closed