June 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
There are certainly better hitting National League outfielders than the trio the Braves run out every day, but there are not many better overall players among their peers. Currently, the Braves outfield is 2-3-4 in National League outfielder WAR, and each of them should represent the Braves in the All-Star game in a few weeks.
I am not huge on the All-Star game, but deserving players should get the recognition for their production. It is easy to denounce UZR and DRS and say that the outfielders have not been as good of fielders as their numbers suggest — each rank in at least the top three in all of baseball for their respective outfield position in UZR — but the fact that the Braves have allowed the least amount of non-home run extra base hits points to how good the outfield defense truly has been.
Not only have they all been great defensively, but they have produced on the base paths as well. Prado has never been the fleetest of foot on the bases, with 22 career steals against 16 caught stealings, but his 9-1 rate this year is included in that ratio. He has timed his opportunities well and taken advantage. Bourn is one of, if not the, most prolific base stealer in the league and he has continued to run at a rapid rate this year — though his he has been caught more often than in the past. Nonetheless, his 20 steals have certainly added value to the team. Heyward’s fast start on the bases was well documented. He has slowed down as the season has continued, but 10 steals in 13 chances and solid overall base running has been a solid portion of Heyward’s game thus far.
And even at the plate, while as mentioned there are certainly better hitters, each ranks in at least the top 14 in wRC+, with Bourn having the lowest mark of 121 — or 21 percent better than the average major league hitter this season. The Braves would absolutely not be in the position they are currently in without the high level of production of their outfielders — who are also now the top three hitters in the lineup.
None of them will start and it is doubtful that each of them make the All-Star game, but that does not mean that they are undeserving of the recognition. These three most certainly have been All-Stars through the season’s first half.