Infante is NL Player of the Week; batting title’s possible

DENVER — Recognition keeps rolling in for Braves infielder Omar Infante, the unlikely All-Star whose ongoing hitting surge has silenced critics of that selection and helped make him the National League’s latest Player of the Week.

The leadoff man won the award Monday after hitting .433 with three home runs, a league-leading .900 slugging percentage and majors-leading nine runs for a week that ended in spectacular fashion Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

Infante went 4-for-4 with two home runs, four RBIs and four runs in a 16-5 win Sunday at Wrigley Field.

“I’m surprised; I wasn’t expecting it,” Infante said through an interpreter, of the Player of the Week award that’s the first of his career and the second for a Brave this season.

Martin Prado, the Braves’ other Player of the Week winner in 2010, is Infante’s friend and Venezuelan countryman. Prado has also served as interpreter for an increasing number of interviews requested of the soft-spoken Infante.

Prado handled translation duties after Infante’s huge game Sunday and again Monday after the award was announced before the Braves’ series opener against the Colorado Rockies.

“I don’t pay attention to the numbers every single day,” Infante said, in explaining why the award surprised him. “I just come to the field and do my job. It’s a great [honor].

“I’m just going to keep working like I have all these years, try to get better and help the team win.”

The versatile veteran hit a stunning .370 in 62 games since June 1, first as backup and pinch-hitter, but as a lineup regular since the end of July.

“He’s been attacking the ball pretty good,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s aggressive. And he’s all over the infield [playing strong defense].”

Infante filled in at second base and the leadoff spot while Prado was out with a broken pinkie, and there after third baseman Chipper Jones had season-ending knee surgery. Prado came off the disabled list and moved to third base and the third spot in the order.

Infante hit .406 in his past 38 games before Monday to raise his season average to .349, putting him in position to challenge for the NL batting title even if he falls short of the minimum 502 plate appearances.

He led the majors with a .358 leadoff average and .392 leadoff on-base percentage.

Infante’s overall average was 26 points higher than Cincinnati’s NL leader Joey Votto (.323) before Monday, with Prado tied for second at .318. If Infante continues to play every day – he started his 25th consecutive game Monday – he could finish with 490 or more plate appearances.

Even if he were rested or missed a handful of games and finish with 470-480 plate appearances, he could still win the batting title provided he keeps his average significantly higher than the other leaders.

A rule allows for a shortage of plate appearances (fewer than 502) to be made up as hitless at-bats for a player whose average would contend for the batting title. So if Infante were to hit .340 in 480 plate appearances, for statistical purposes an 0-for-22 could be added to his totals and his average adjusted down.

Under such a scenario, he could win the batting title if he continues his sizzling pace, or even if he cools off some.

He hit .394 during his 24 consecutive starts before Monday.

“That’s not important right now,” Infante said of the batting-title possibility. “I want to stay healthy and be part of making the playoffs, do my best to help this team get in the playoffs.

“At the end of the season, after we clinch, I’ll find out who’s going to have the batting title.”

62 comments Add your comment

David..(Athens, AL)

August 23rd, 2010
8:58 pm

What a valuable player Omar has been for the Braves …GO BRAVES!!!

Bob Horners liquor breath

August 23rd, 2010
9:05 pm

Meanwhile, on CSS, an average ground ball, slips under the glove of Glaus.

Bill

August 23rd, 2010
9:06 pm

I think this Player of the Week Award will finally shut the skeptics up….the ones that were complaining about Omar making the All Star Team…..Omar is the real deal….GO BRAVES!!!

Senator Blutarski

August 23rd, 2010
9:08 pm

Soooo glad Omar’s on our team!

VP

August 23rd, 2010
9:17 pm

He came in the Renteria deal right? That’s got to be right up there with the Smoltz deal as one of the best in franchise history. Trading with the Tigers is good for us.

LuisG - Win-it-4-Bobby-n-Chipper

August 23rd, 2010
9:20 pm

I think Omar went 4-6 yesterday. Heyward was the one to go 4-4.

memobook

August 23rd, 2010
9:21 pm

Bob Horner – don’t dis Horner, and go ))))))) yourself.

And Senator, it’s an honor, sir, to finally encounter you. So, “Ten years of college down the drain,” but it finally paid off.

Dawg A

August 23rd, 2010
9:35 pm

I would love to know why the citys only major newspaper has no coverage of the Little League team from Columbus tonight. I realize the game has been rained out. But how about telling us when the game will be replayed and cover this sport!
These are the next major leaguers and their games are more exciting at times than MLB.

Erin

August 23rd, 2010
9:46 pm

Omar came from the Cubs with Ohman for Jose Ascaino. Still a good freaking trade for the Braves.

supporter

August 23rd, 2010
9:58 pm

Congratulations to Omar Infante. I have to say that one of the things that bothered me about Escobar is his lack of desire to learn and speak English. Does anyone know if Infante is trying to learn English?

Omar from Maracaibo

August 23rd, 2010
10:28 pm

As a Venezuelan Born citizen I dont understand how Omar Infante has not learn to speak english in 11 years in the US… unbelieveble, then we got angry when some people in north america call us Indians…

Bruce

August 23rd, 2010
10:34 pm

Omaaaaaaaaaaar

Heisenberg

August 23rd, 2010
10:57 pm

We fleeced Detroit in the Renteria trade for JJ.

Boatdoc

August 23rd, 2010
11:02 pm

A happy irony for the Braves will be if Omar beats out Prado for the batting title by the mentioned “didn’t get enough at-bats, but add enough oh-fers to get to 502 plate appearances he STILL has the highest batting average” clause. There was speculation about that rule 2 years ago as Chipper was winning his title because of his substantial down time.

Dave – What would it take for the potential batting title winner/All-Star to stay as an every day starter?

Tim

August 23rd, 2010
11:08 pm

Should have sent Hernandez….no matter what happens.

Slim Love

August 23rd, 2010
11:12 pm

Realmente no puedo hablar español, Omar. Mantener el buen trabajo.

Omar from Maracaibo

August 23rd, 2010
11:24 pm

::: Ya veo que no puedo hablar eSpañol…. El que nace bruto no se enderece… Go braves

Mathman

August 23rd, 2010
11:54 pm

Wren: You need to wrap up Infante and Prado in multi-year deals now. Chipper retire. Please.

Younger Than That Now

August 24th, 2010
12:25 am

If memory serves me correctly, the Cubs were very glad to be rid of Omar when that trade went down and they thought they got the best of it by getting Ascaino. Watching a good many Cubs games back then, I remember Omar being roundly booed on several occasions… I guess Sunday’s game was his exclamation mark on what he thought of those boos and of being given up on by an organization. He’s sure been a very valuable comodity for the Braves and it just didn’t start this year. Congratulations Omar!!!

Guest

August 24th, 2010
3:00 am

Omar never played for the Cubs. He was traded to the Braves less than a month after being acquired from the Tigers.

Branch Rickey

August 24th, 2010
7:06 am

Only thing preventing Omar from winning the title is Bobby Cox.

I could see washed up Glaus coming back, playing third, & Omar riding the pine.

hootdaddy-21

August 24th, 2010
8:47 am

Hot player on Yahoo’s fantasy profile this week: Blanco, as in Gregor. Great thing we got Ankiel

Phil in TN

August 24th, 2010
8:52 am

Omar probably can speak English, but is uncomfortable trying to speak it in front of the camera. I can speak Spanish, but certainly wouldn’t want to to so in that kind of situation. I don’t blame him… keep up the great work Omar!

JASon

August 24th, 2010
9:19 am

Dear Bobby Cox,
you exhibited great skills by benching this guy in the first half of the season. Way to see talent when its there. Gonna start calling you Mr. baseball.

Gene

August 24th, 2010
10:05 am

I don’t like or agree with everything Bobby Cox does–particularly his leaving pitchers in when they obviously don’t have it, sticking with 6-4-3 Glaus and McOut when they should be in AAA, and sitting Omar on the bench when he should be playing. However, the Braves are still in first place, ahead of a more-talented Phillies team, so Bobby is doing some things right. But I still want Freeman on first base.

BCNC

August 24th, 2010
10:18 am

Um… I believe Glaus and McClouth are in AAA, and Omar is playing everyday. Did I miss something?

It's a chopper to Chipper

August 24th, 2010
10:18 am

I don’t know what Omar’s status is in regards to free agency, but if the Brave’s don’t play him every day and try to sign him long term, when he does hit FA, he could easily go to another team to be an every day player. Frank Wren, please don’t let this happen. GO BRAVES!!!

. Don

August 24th, 2010
11:09 am

I forgot to apologize to some of you experts a few weeks ago when I suggested that Infante should be a regular – and be playing on a regular basis. Of course, several of you indicated how stupid I was and pointed out that Infante was only a bench – reserve player – and that I must have no knowledge of baseball not to understand that.

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
11:10 am

With Pujols and Votto having a chance to win the first NL Triple Crown in over 70 years, it would be a crying shame if Infante “snuck” in as the batting champion. He has had a very good season, but robbing one of the other two for a Triple Crown would be an injustice.

. Don

August 24th, 2010
11:11 am

Will Bobby Cox continue to hit Lee in the fourth slot in the batting order even if he never gets a hit??
More to the point – How stupid was it to put that kind of pressure on him when he first came over – instead of hitting him lower and then working him into it when he started hitting?

Sign Infante Now!!!!!!!!!

August 24th, 2010
11:13 am

The Braves need to sign Omar Infante yesterday! This guy is tremendous. There’s nothing he can’t do, besides pitch.(Who knows bring him in the 7th, give him a shot Bobby). The Braves struggled all year at the leadoff spot and now they’ve found there guy.

With Chipper hurt and out there’s no doubt we will need OInfante’s services next year and beyond. I dont know what his contract entitles but this guy needs to be a Brave next year.

Ariba Omar!!

hAL

August 24th, 2010
11:18 am

i think omar actually came from the twins was traded from deteroit before we got him im not sure though

Chris

August 24th, 2010
11:19 am

JMac it wouldn’t be an injustice if he won a batting title that he EARNED! But it si a non-issue. He won’t have enough at-bats to qualify. Prado on the other hand does have a very good shot at winning the batting title. If he does win it, it won’t be an injustice either. Prado has been the model of consistency since opening day.

Coach

August 24th, 2010
11:40 am

Chris- I don’t see Prado winning the batting title with a .320 avg.

Mr. Bradley- I would like to see the following stat if you can find it.

When was the last time a team won the division or the WS without one hitter hitting 20 HR or 80 RBI???

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
11:51 am

Chris, I did not mention Prado, who has had a wonderful season and a “Career Year”. He will not win the batting title, probably settling around .315-.318. Omar Infante, who in a part time role is around .340, is the fly in the ointment. If he were to slip in thru the back door and rob either Pujols or Votto of a triple crown, it would be such an injustice.

Braves Fan Since "80

August 24th, 2010
11:57 am

.DON, perhaps the Phillies should move Howard down….. 3 k’s and JMAC when is performing an injustice to anyone……..

Braves Fan Since "80

August 24th, 2010
12:01 pm

J MAC that is just silly……. You could withhold votes from Bobby Cox for manager of the year but it makes it tougher to play part time and pinch hit……. OMAR is for real…. you my friend are a hater!

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
12:07 pm

Very easy… when a player or players have been there all season, playing every day and performing at a high level and they lose out to a part time player who although he has had a wonderful season, has not been out there day after day, fighting off injuries and fatigue. I am not knocking Infante and his “career year”, but to have his name pop up as batting champ at the end of the season when he has not been listed as one of the leaders all season long is simply not right. Pujols and Votto have been in the top 10 ALL SEASON. That is the difference.

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
12:11 pm

It would also rob one of the 2 of an accomplishment that has been over 70 years since it last happened. That means alot. Hater you say???? I do not think so. I think the better term would be fan, as in over 50 years.

wayn-o

August 24th, 2010
12:13 pm

If he doesn’t start every game (unless injured) It would be stupid and will be luck to get wild card.

Art Vandelay

August 24th, 2010
1:13 pm

JMac, you’re completely missing (or avoiding) the point. If Infante wins the batting title, even with the 0-22 scenario described in the article, then he has won it legitimately and deserves it as much as anyone else. The fact that it could keep Pujols or Votto from the Triple Crown is merely incidental. Unfortunate for them, but if they want the Triple Crown, they should make sure to keep their batting averages above Omar’s. Otherwise, we may wait another 50 years, which is just fine.

Ghostbuster

August 24th, 2010
1:38 pm

Does any think that Cox should have hit for Cabrera last night in the top of the ninth?

AthensBrave

August 24th, 2010
1:56 pm

“After we clinch”

Hell yes Omar! I love the confidence.

nique

August 24th, 2010
1:59 pm

why is it so difficult to find a box score (for any sport) on the ajc site? do they really want me to go to espn for that?

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
2:47 pm

I agree with all criticism about all the time Infante has spent on the bench. Many of us knew this guy should have been starting for a LONG time. If not for injuries he would STILL be on the bench half the time, you can bank on that.

Want proof of that? Well after another manager realized the guy was an All Star and he played in the All Star Game look at the games following the break:

Game 1: Did not play
Game 2: Defensive substitution, 1 at bat
Game 3: Started, 3 at bats
Game 4: Started, went 4-5
Game 5: Defensive substitution, 2 at bats
Game 6: Defensive substitution, 2 at bats
Game 7: Defensive substitution, 0 at bats
Game 8: Defensive substitution, 2 at bats
Game 9: Did not play
Game 10: Defensive substitution, 0 at bats
Game 11: Did not play
Game 12: Defensive substitution, 0 at bats

Then Prado got hurt. ANYONE here defend Cox on this idiocy? He left the All Star Break batting .358 and got 15 at bats in 12 games. During the 2 games he started he batted .500.

THANK YOU BOBBY FOR RETIRING!!!!

Braves Fan Since "80

August 24th, 2010
2:54 pm

J Mac by your standards a player that bats left and get a few bats against lefthanders or for that matter a switch hitter……. You are a hater because you do not appreciate the accomplishments of Omar…. has a player ever been in a part time utility role made an allstar team and went on to win a batting title…. why is that less important than a triple crown earned because a guy was 22 at bats short…. Votto and PuJols better start swinging the stick or you may have to wait another 80 years

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
2:57 pm

If a guy has at (or near) 502 at bats he’s earned that batting average. That’s the one and only question. Who cares if he was a DH, pitcher, utility player or a guy that only hits against left handers that start with the letter “J”? 502 at bats is a LOT of time at the plate.

Braves Fan Since "80

August 24th, 2010
3:01 pm

Broncs…. easy to hide behind a keyboard, not so easy to go out everynight……. The facts are Infante is not a great outfielder…… third baseman….. or shortstop. You would have weakened you Defnse to get a light hitter in the lineup…. We all (But Chipper) see that Prado is a better 3rd baseman and 3 hole hitter today (Chipper was one of the best)…. you are wasting your skills Chicago has an opening!

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
3:06 pm

Infante is an above-average fielder… what on Earth are you talking about. All Cox does is praise his defense. We prepared to add liar to incompetent?

And a light hitter? He was hitting .358!!! His OPS is .838. Quick, name any Braves with a higher OPS than .838….

I’ll give you some time cause, guess what…. Martin Prado is the ONLY one that has 100+ at bats and no one was suggesting he take Prado’s spot.

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
3:25 pm

I do appreciate his career year, very much. But it still is ridiculous that a part time starter could, in theory, win a batting title, while players playing every day (Pujols has sat out 2 games this season, playing hurt, playing sick, not sure about Votto), are left holding the bag. And Braves fan, like I said earlier, I have been a fan for over 50 years. I am a baseball fan; I am a fan of great accomplishments, and though Omar has had a really good season,(for about the 4th time), that pales in comparison to something that has not been accomplished in over 70 years. Omar’s feat is just about batting avg. A triple crown is about BA, RBI, and HR., which is much more difficult to accomplish than a simple batting title, regardless if he is a full or part time player.
Any real baseball fan would understand, but I reckon I am not talking to any REAL FANS, just homers.

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
3:32 pm

JMac, who said Omar’s feat didn’t pale in comparison to someone winning the Triple Crown? Dude you are arguing with yourself.

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
3:34 pm

Braves fan, if you were a Mets fan, I have a feeling you would feel differently. You need to take the blinders off and look at the OVERALL accomplishments. Batting titles are won by someone EVERY SEASON. Triple crowns are few and far between. 2 players have legitimate chances to win one this season. I just hope one of them gets the chance to and is not robbed of what might be a once in a career opportunity. Omar has had a wonderful season (5th time), and I admit that he has surprised everyone, but he is still a part time player, and has led the league in batting for how many weeks?? Top ten for how many weeks?? With any luck he will fall short on his at bats and all this will become a mute point.

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
3:56 pm

JMac, you are rooting for a guy to fall short of his at bats that is a BRAVE because Cox was dumb enough to not start him for most of the season but he still is going to have right at 500 (FIVE HUNDRED) at bats because another player that is not a BRAVE wants to win a Triple Crown???

How about EARN the Triple Crown by winning all 3 categories straight up. The reason it is so rare is because its so HARD to do it. To win it because Infante fell short a few at bats would be a big old * in my opinion.

JMac12203

August 24th, 2010
4:09 pm

Did not say that. I said that if he does not get enough at bats, then it is a moot point. I did use the term, with any luck, but I did not say i was rooting against him. I was trying to say that maybe he will not get the at bats, so it won’t be a concern. However, I AM ROOTING VERY MUCH FOR A TRIPLE CROWN WINNER this season. So much harder to do and takes so much more to win one. And about falling short in the at bats, if he does, everyone can blame the manager who should have retired several years ago. Infante should have been in the starting lineup all season. So, even if he falls one at bat short, oh well, so sorry. Blame the man that makes out the lineup.

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
4:15 pm

Agree with blaming Cox. My only point is that the Triple Crown winner needs to earn it. I think having someone win the Triple Crown is pretty awesome. They just need to do it against the best in the league… and this year, the best pure batter in terms of hits per at bat is Omar Infante. If he gets near 500 at bats, and he should, then you just have to go out there and beat him straight up to earn it.

Guess we might have to wait for J-Hey’s 3rd season for a TC winner!! :)

NATHANBUFORD

August 24th, 2010
4:17 pm

J-Mac , like everyone is telling , Omar would be deserving of batting title if he meets criteria. Pujols/ Votto are having great seasons, but rules are rules.GO OMAR –GO BRAVES

whensidslid92

August 24th, 2010
4:19 pm

“THANK YOU BOBBY FOR RETIRING!!!!”

I’m sure you could have won 14 consecutive division titles, right? I mean, any joe-schmo could do it, right? It’s a pretty common occurrence. I’m sure our next manager will do it, too.

You’re an idiot….

Bruce Mac

August 24th, 2010
4:20 pm

DAWG A, = DUMB A Future Major leaguers, yea right.

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
4:41 pm

Whensid – (1) I think Bobby’s time has come and gone (much like another Bobby down in Florida that just retired). Great at one point, not so great now.

(2) Yes, to the extent that “I could do it” I don’t know about that, but you have to agree that managing a baseball team has to be the easiest head coaching job in all of major sports. And further, managing a team with Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddix in your rotation has to make the Braves about the easiest team to manage in all of baseball.

(3) When Venters has arm surgery next season, remember I told you so.

whensidslid92

August 24th, 2010
4:56 pm

Broncs- (1) So you think that over the last 3 years Bobby just lost it? I guess in 2006 he just woke up out of bed and forgot how to manage. Because keep in mind, 2005 was the year of the Baby Braves, arguably one of Bobby’s finest to manage that team to a postseason.

(2) I’ll give you partial credit here. I think there’s a lot to be said for the talent he had. But keep in mind, Bobby was former GM of this team. He still had (and has) a lot of control on who’s a part of his roster…more so than other managers. Also, last time I checked there are still 2 other pitchers in a rotation, 8 other hitters in a lineup, and an entire bullpen to be accounted for. And…Maddux joined in ‘93 and Glavine left after ‘02, so Bobby still managed to win 5 out of 14 without all 3 of them…still, an applaudable amount.

(3) Who gives a ___ about innings pitched/pitch counts? The Nats “monitoring” of Strasburg has worked real well this season hasn’t it–what is it, 2 DL stints now?

whensidslid92

August 24th, 2010
4:58 pm

Oh…and…(1) Nice try with the “Bobby” comparison, but the name is about where it ends. Bobby Bowden didn’t have a top 5 finish in nearly a decade, lost control of the program, is 80 years old, etc. Bobby Cox has been in the playoff race the past two seasons, still has the respect of his players, and is 69 looking to retire like most people his age do.

Broncs

August 24th, 2010
5:17 pm

Yea, but did Bobby Bowden just lose it one morning? Dude was fighting for a National Championship just a decade ago. Now he’s worthless?

I think Bobby Cox has always been a good manager, never a truely great one but I can’t prove he is a product of the talent around him anymore than you could prove that he was great regardless of the talent around him. I think people love playing for him, and because of that he has fallen in love with being loved by his players to the point that he has made terrible managerial mistakes out of (honestly blind) loyalty.

I think we are in the playoffs last season with a different manager. I really do. Again, I can’t prove that.

Finally, I think that Bobby Cox is one of the worst bullpen managers in the history of the game. I think he is absolutely clueless when it comes to managing a bullpen. He should be civilly liable for what he did to Peter Moylan’s elbow and what I’m worried he is doing to Venters. His horrible overuse/misuse of guys like Mike Gonzalez has plagued this team for years.

Honestly, that’s where a manager is most important: who to play, and how to use the bullpen. Everything else is pretty minor (hit & run, taking out the starter, etc). Bobby Cox has failed in both departments pretty epically in the last two years. I’m confident another manager could do a much better job.

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