August 21, 2012 at 2:17 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Transaction Analysis
As I linked to earlier in the news post, the Braves signed first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league deal and will send him to Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday.
Overbay will be on the Braves bench come Sept. 1 when rosters expand, providing Atlanta a bat to solidify the left-handed half of its pinch-hit crew.
It was reported a couple weeks ago the Braves were looking hard for a left-handed bat for the bench, getting linked to names such as Johnny Damon. It’s a sign that they aren’t satisfied with Eric Hinske’s production, and for good reason. Hinske is hitting a lowly .205/.282/.299 with a .254 wOBA and just one home run. It’s apparent that he can no longer be trusted with the big pinch-hit at-bat late in the game.
Meanwhile, Overbay is hitting .292/.367/.448 with a .347 wOBA and 10.9% walk rate in 110 plate appearances this year. That includes a .364 wOBA against right-handed pitchers, compared to Hinkse’s .273.
Overbay has two 20-homer seasons to his name, but he has never been known for pop. However, he does know how to get on base, owning a career .344 wOBA with an 11.3% walk rate. While the pinch-hit home run is always big, having the ability to get on base late in the game means a lot. Overbay is capable of doing this, while Hinske has proven he can’t right now.
Signing Overbay is another shrewd move by Frank Wren in shoring up what was a weak bench just a few weeks ago. The addition of Reed Johnson in the Paul Maholm deal was a great move in that it gave the Braves a legit right-handed bat that they lacked since Matt Diaz went under. While trading for Paul Janish was out of necessity, it still proved to be a great move, and Janish should provide sound defense off the bench when Andrelton Simmons returns.
The bench was perhaps the Braves’ weakest link earlier in the season, but several solid moves by Wren changed that quickly. Overbay is just the latest example.