Constanza’s bat licking, hot hitting and grotesque knuckle

In under two weeks, outfielder Jose Constanza has rocketed from relative obscurity as a career minor leaguer to buzz-creating .413 hitter after 12 big-league games for the Braves.

After seven years, he’s an overnight success story.

To understand how far under the radar 27-year-old “Georgie” – that’s his nickname in the Braves clubhouse, a reference to a famous Seinfeld story arc — had operated until recently, consider:

– He’s still listed as a switch-hitter in the Braves media guide, although he’s batted exclusively left-handed for the past several years..

– The last time he was rated as high as a top-30 prospect by in any organization was 2007, when he was No. 26 in the Indians system by Baseball America.

– He played 743 minor-league games in seven seasons (six with the Indians) before his first big-league callup with Atlanta, which signed him as a minor league free agent.

– Fifteen months ago a writer for the Indians’ website, answering a fan’s question about the “switch-hitting speed demon” at Triple-A Columbus, noted that Constanza hadn’t been viewed as a potential every-day player in the majors.

Obscurity is threatened. Constanza has started 12 straight games at all three outfield positions for the Braves, demonstrating what a disruptive force speed can be.

He’s also drawn curious looks for a habit of licking his bat after a foul tip.

The amiable Dominican, speaking in broken English, said he began licking his bat years ago for no real reason, other than to taste the hot spot that smells of burning wood immediately after a fastball skips off it. It became a compulsion.

As for his move from switch-hitting, that came after he broke his right index finger jamming it into a base on a hands-first slide in 2005. He was in his first full season in Class-A ball at the time, and didn’t want to say how bad it was or stop playing.

The finger didn’t heal properly, and now there’s a grotesquely large, gnarled lump on the knuckle. “Every year, it gets bigger,” said Constanza, who stopped switch-hitting when it became too painful to bat right-handed.

“Now you’re in the big leagues, you can get it checked out,” Braves reliever Peter Moylan said to Constanza, who plans to see about possible surgery this winter.

The Braves knew what they were getting when they traded for Astros center fielder Michael Bourn on July 31. The major league stolen base leader has lived up to billing.

But Constanza? No one could have expected this, even after he hit .312 with a .361 on-base percentage and 23 steals in 86 games at Triple-A Gwinnett.

After going 1-for-8 in his first two major league games, Constanza is 18-for-38 (.474) in his past 10 games with a double, triple, homer, eight runs, four RBIs and .500 OBP.

“Got an opportunity, trying to [take advantage],” he said. “Working hard, trying to help the team.”

The left-handed hitter is 8-for-14 (.571) against lefties, 8-for-18 with runners on base, and 9-for-20 with two strikes.

“Constanza’s been amazing since he got up here,” said Dan Uggla, whose 31-game hitting streak has overshadowed Constanza, Bourn and everything else. “He’s really got a good idea about what kind of game he’s playing. That dude can flat-out run and get on base. Him and Michael Bourn both. Even when there’s nobody on base and they’re coming up to hit, you’re creating pressure on the defense, just from their legs alone. And both of them can handle the bat.”

Constanza had three singles Wednesday, all infield hits. He had a slap hit where he was already headed toward first base as the ball came off the bat.

“For me, personally, I’d rather face a guy like Barry Bonds than someone like [Constanza],” said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson. “I want somebody up there that’s trying to hit homers; you have a tendency to get those guys to swing and miss. Constanza, I mean he’s pesky, he’s going to put the ball in play. A ball on the ground, more than half the time it’s going to be a hit.

“It’s almost the same kind of approach that [Seattle’s] Ichiro [Suzuki] had back when he first came over and had his legs under him. Anything that’s not right to the defender is going to be a hit. And it’s nice to have that weapon on your side for a change.”

208 comments Add your comment

@___ISH___

August 11th, 2011
6:18 pm

Love that guy…

Tyler NJ Brave

August 11th, 2011
6:20 pm

Hope he keeps rolling

dlipthratt

August 11th, 2011
6:20 pm

great story! Very much history in his story,

Sammy

August 11th, 2011
6:20 pm

So the guy likes to lick wood…. So what ?

BTrey

August 11th, 2011
6:22 pm

Even if he wasn’t viewed as an everyday player, it still makes no sense to me that he never got a sniff of the show. If nothing else, why wasn’t he called up in September as a utility player/pinch runner?

Tyler NJ Brave

August 11th, 2011
6:23 pm

When McCann gets back wouldn’t it be a good idea to send Heyward down just for a couple weeks to clear his head. I’m not sure if anything is still bothering him physically, but I don’t think it will hurt him mentally to send him down to regain that confidence he had last year.

Justin

August 11th, 2011
6:24 pm

Love having this much speed in the lineup. The Braves have watched Jose Reyes kill us with his speed for years.

On another note… I keep hearing that the Braves hitters are going to Chipper for advise on their swing. Let me be the first to say that I hope he becomes our hitting coach and one day manager once he hangs up his cleats.

Bobby Bobby

August 11th, 2011
6:26 pm

Great article. I am guessing they will sign him for next year.

garblicks

August 11th, 2011
6:30 pm

DOB great blog! This guy has something about him that makes me want to watch the braves. I’d say he’s been as good or better than bourne. I wouldn’t take either out of the lineup unless its for injury or a major slump. Constanza rocks!

Justmythoughts

August 11th, 2011
6:41 pm

I make sure I am NOT out of the room when he comes to bat!

reality

August 11th, 2011
6:42 pm

so why have they gone away from Georgie at 9 and the pitcher in the 8 hole? Seems Constanza and Bourn back to back is more efective then Cons, out, Bourn….

Bobby's Cox

August 11th, 2011
6:45 pm

This is baseball the way I grew up watching it before the roid era, and it’s much more exciting! Goes to show you don’t need to sit and wait for the 3-run HR. Our offense is much more consistent now and putting up some runs. Disrupting the pitcher and defense does work…to he’ll with the Earl Weaver train of thought that so many bloggers here clamored for over the years…

Him Tudson

August 11th, 2011
6:46 pm

Even this guy’s groundouts are exciting to watch. How soon can we sign this guy long-term, I wonder…

N Nine

August 11th, 2011
6:49 pm

Georgie got just enough playing time after 7 years in minors. Remember, he struggled the first two games, if Broun came sooner, he would have been sent down. That third game got him going. Think about that!

gd from nz

August 11th, 2011
6:55 pm

just a great story – who would have thought a unknown minor leaguer would be in the lineup displacing Jason Heyward?

[...] AJC’s David O’Brien has a nice article up today on Braves rookie sensation Jose Constanza, who apparently goes by “Georgie” in the Atlanta clubhouse.  And just what sort of [...]

John in Wichita

August 11th, 2011
7:00 pm

Charles Thomas, Willy Harris, Jose Constanza… let’s take it one step at a time before we break the bank on a guy. I love the excitement he’s brought so far, though. Can’t wait to see this team up close in St. Louis in a few weeks.

Bob the Blogger

August 11th, 2011
7:07 pm

Pretty cool. We get Michael Bourn and everybody is raving about the destructive speed of — Constanza!

Coach (2011 Fredi G. a go!)

August 11th, 2011
7:11 pm

Rowsdower

August 11th, 2011
7:12 pm

Great to see a guy that busted his ass in the minors for years getting a chance and capitalizing. Georgie has given this team such a boost with his play and his energy. I don’t know how he will adjust when the pitchers make their adjustments to him, but you have to think that a guy that slaps the ball and runs has to make less adjustments than someone like Heyward.

Speaking of Heyward, I hope the Braves aren’t reluctant to send him down because of how the Francouer fiasco went down. He really needs to get his head together and he won’t be able to do it during the stretch drive of a pennant race. Especially with Constanza taking his ABs.

Roll Over Heyward

August 11th, 2011
7:16 pm

Heyward STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN – He needs to be taught a lesson and sent down to maybe A Ball in Rome…..he needs to be slapped hard to get his attention and remind him “He Ain’t All That” – he is not the salvation of this team and the way he is playing now he certainly is not the future of this team – He is Nothing But A FLOP!!!!!!!!!

Remarkable

August 11th, 2011
7:23 pm

This is where the Braves are going in the next few years. Speed, speed, and more speed. Jose Constanza is just a little surprise because they didn’t know he could hit too.

I got gout

August 11th, 2011
7:31 pm

This guy reminds me of the spark that Conrad gave us last year…..in a different way of course.
Congrats to Constanza to make it to the bigs!

Kat

August 11th, 2011
7:38 pm

Great personal story on Constanza!

jayvee

August 11th, 2011
7:40 pm

Here’s the thing with Heyward: He needs a completely new stance and swing. He aint gonna get that this year, at least not in the bigs. Thing is, if they keep him with the big team as a bench player, he’s a huge liability: you really can’t afford to have a guy coming off your bench to pinch hit in a key situation when he’s such an easy out. I say send him down now, see if he can get it turned around in time to make the post-season roster.

VinceVanGo

August 11th, 2011
7:43 pm

Constanza did this all year at Gwinnett, I was wanting him to be called up two months ago. And wait until Braves fans see Tyler Pastornicky compete for shortstop next year. He’s the real deal too. It makes me believe that the Braves need to continue building from within their minor league system like the Twins did for years. With a few exceptions(T. Hudson, D. Uggla) the best Braves on the team this year came from their minor league system. The trades and free agent signings, Kawakami, McClouth, A. Gonzolaz, and Derek Lowe have all left a little to be desired. Build from within, save money, and keep them around longerI

Tami

August 11th, 2011
7:47 pm

I too have loved having Constanza with the A-team. Between Bourn and himself, he flat out makes things happen. He’s playing like he never ever wants to go back down to the Minors, and I feel like that has had a major positive effect on the rest of the team.

jerry

August 11th, 2011
7:48 pm

I got my fingers crossed.

Homer

August 11th, 2011
7:49 pm

Once Heyward get straighted out which might not be until next year, then Constanza will be an excellent fourth outfielder.

Ghost of Gil Garrido

August 11th, 2011
7:50 pm

“[Georgie] said he began licking his bat years ago for no real reason, other than to taste the hot spot that smells of burning wood immediately after a fastball skips off it.”

See? That right there is all you need to know that this is going to be a magical next couple of months. You got a team full of bat-licking, teammate-hugging characters who really seem to enjoy each other’s company. (Like the report from DOB that Bourn was sitting around the locker room in his skivvies long after the game the other night, just shooting the breeze with Huddy.) Camaraderie like that can take a team far in the post-season.

Should be great for this 2011 team to watch a weekend of festivities dedicated to the 1991 team – - as fun a bunch of teammates as we’ve ever had in this town…

01HAWK

August 11th, 2011
7:52 pm

I never leave the room when CONSTANZA comes to the plate. That running hit in the box was absolutely amazing. I hope he gets his knuckle fixed and maybe he can go back to switch hitting.

Right now, he is more exciting than Bourn. He actually draws more attention than BOURN by opposing teams.

If we had brought him up instead of Jordan Schaeffer we would be in better shape so far as catching the PHILS………………………But, as long as we make the playoffs, it is fine with me.

Now I feel that Schaeffer was totally expendable due to CONSTANZA. I would love to see his name on some jerseys soon.

Heyward has got to play. Send him to Gwinnett til rosters expand in September.

paul

August 11th, 2011
7:55 pm

some of you people are complete tools, and that is putting it nicely. I am sure most that are criticizing haven’t had an at bat above little league. Heyward has a hole in his swing, a couple of major holes. He has hit at EVERY level, including the majors. I agree he is struggling very much right now, but it would be stupid to “send him down”… He is a smart guy and has always hit. He will hit again. Have faith in the big man…… it will pay off.

01HAWK

August 11th, 2011
8:03 pm

No sense in HEYWARD sitting on the bench. He needs some at bats. Gwinnett will be good and he can come back up for the playoffs. Hopefully he will not pout if he is sent down. He is at .218 I believe. Why shouldn’t he go down to AAA.

Last ten games he is at .167 with 1 RBI

justanothertool

August 11th, 2011
8:08 pm

Yeah, Paul. How many major league games have you played? Any minor league games? So you make the assertion that Heyward’s swing has at least two major holes? Then he will fix that faster than at the minor-league level? This all sounds contradictory to me. But I’m just another “tool.” Gosh…you should take Parrish’s job….we all stand in awe before you.

Rowsdower

August 11th, 2011
8:10 pm

First off, insulting people for their opinion is asinine and making a generalization about people is uneducated.

Second, sending Heyward down is not giving up on him. Its getting him much needed ABs in a non-pressure situation that will allow him to make some adjustments to his swing and, more importantly, get his confidence back. He is not going to grow as a player being a 4th OF with the Braves, which he is at this point. He is 22 years old. To give up on him completely would be even more asinine than your comments…

justanothertool

August 11th, 2011
8:12 pm

So true Rowsdower. Some people are intolerant…..and you can’t say anything that contradicts their opinion….they already know it all.

Brava

August 11th, 2011
8:20 pm

Georgie’s story is so heartwarming and a testament to the fact that hard work pays off.

I also think Heyward needs to be sent down to Gwinnett to work on his hitting. I just cringed last night when the heckler was shouting “overraaaaated” over and over while he was batting. He’s struggling so badly that I wonder how far off him getting booed at Turner Field is. I really don’t want to see that happen. He needs to get out of the pressure cooker of a pennant race where he can concentrate fully on making adjustments to his mechanics.

Rowsdower

August 11th, 2011
8:36 pm

@justanothertool – I was gonna say grab a bat and let me see how many holes I can find in YOUR swing, but I decided to take the high road 8)

urban redneck

August 11th, 2011
8:45 pm

dear jose,

i’m going to need you to stop hitting the ball. you’re taking starts away from my non-hitting homeboy. thanks!!

justanothertool

August 11th, 2011
9:08 pm

No….you said it, Rowsdower…no high road here. LOL I could at least make better contact with a golf driver than a ball bat now….so watch out! LOL Why don’t you take a whack at Paul while you’re at it?. He’s the expert. He could explain to you how to whack him farther. :)

David

August 11th, 2011
9:19 pm

“Constanza has started 12 straight games at all three outfield positions for the Braves, demonstrating what a disruptive force speed can be.”

He must be fast if he can start at all 3 outfield positions at the same time!!

mike mangan

August 11th, 2011
9:31 pm

J Hey needs about 50 to 75 at bats to regain his early 2010 form.A better than average outfielder although he cant throw like Francouer but then again who can.Jhey needs to find an old coach who has worked with him thru thick or thin.Maybe even Chipper’s Dad.
How ironic is it when you look at our hitting coaches…T.Pendelton,Larry Parrish both really good Major league players but I think we got a lot more out of Don Baylor and Clarence Jones,
What is the solution for JHey ? Even if he doesnt get in the lineup he needs a lot of BP.My seven year old grandson would stay in the batters box all day hitting against a pitching machine,Maybe Jason can grab a couple rolls of quarters and just start swinging and working on his batting stance with out all the critics knowing whats best for J Hey.

BravesfaninWis

August 11th, 2011
9:44 pm

I agree on the Heyward situation. Sending him down to get as many at bats as possible to fix his swing and get going again is not giving up on him, its helping him. By sitting him on the bench and watching is not helping him get his swing back and getting him seeing the ball better.

Send him down, let him work on things, then bring him back for the playoffs if they make it. Hopefully he will take it in stride and go with it and not complain. Its all for his benefit if that happens.

@___ISH___

August 11th, 2011
9:50 pm

It’s unanimous then, let’s send Heyward down so he can get the much needed AB’s. There’s no use in keeping him on the bench and giving him one or two games a week in which he’ll go 0-3 with a walk and 3 k’s. That’s gonna do him more harm than good. Hopefully he makes some adjustments and makes it back soon.

Brava

August 11th, 2011
9:54 pm

J Hey needs about 50 to 75 at bats to regain his early 2010 form.

What are you basing this on? He’s had 298 at bats this season and has not returned to his early 2010 form. He’s also been taking a lot of batting practice and working with Larry Parish and Chipper on the side. But, I guess you know better than them what’s best for him.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
9:54 pm

usually when someone goes into a slump they are trying to pull everything. they have to be patient and try to hit the ball up the middle. chipper, when he’s going good, hits a lot of balls to the off field. look at freeman, same thing, and now uggla. when they are going bad, pitchers go low and away to get them out. with heyward, they are able to go anywhere for the out. he pulls off the outside pitches and can’t catch up with the inside pitches

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
9:56 pm

I’m a big fan of Constanza. He is a great story and I wish him the best. The thing that seems to not understood is that Constanza is not THIS good. He’s a speed demon, there is no doubt. But consider this: On the balls he’s actually put in play, he’s reached base without an out on an amazing 45% of them. To put that into context, Ricky Henderson, a hall of famer and renowned speed merchant himself, only reached base safely around 30% of the time he put the ball in play. Ichiro Suzuki, whom Tim Hudson recently compared Georgie, reaches base safely about 35% of the time he puts the ball in play. These number do not count HR’s. Do you really think Georgie is THAT much better than Ricky Henderson or Ichiro Suzuki? Juan Pierre, the guy I think Constanza most resembles carries a lifetime .314 BA on balls in play. If you adjust Constanza’s BA to reflect that more realistic level.. he would be hitting .282 (respectable) with an OBP of .313 (not good). What’s that mean? That Constanza has been very lucky. True, that luck has been helped by his speed and willingness to just put the ball in play. He’s playing to his strengths and that is the sign of a smart ball player. But he is NOT playing to his talent level. He is playing WELL above and he will come back to Earth.

As lucky as Constanza has been, Heyward has been similarly unlucky. He has reached base on an astoundingly low 24% of the balls he hits in play (not including HR’s). And yet he still has managed a low but surprising .314 OBP. Adjust his BA to a league average for balls in play and he’d hit .261 with an OBP of .351 (very respectable). And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Jason’s true talent level is above league average when it comes to balls in play. No one can argue that Heyward hasn’t shown a hole or two in his swing, but that won’t be fixed at the Minor league level. There aren’t enough pitchers in the Minor leagues that are capable of exploiting any holes Heyward has in his swing. Heyward has done all he can in the Minors and needs to fix his swing in the Majors JUST like Uggla and more recently Prado has been given the chance to do. Heyward is a smart and capable player and he will make those adjustments. The difference between Heyward and Constanza is that while Heyward is making those adjustments, he will still sport a workable OBP (not making an out is what matters more than anything in baseball). If Constanza loses his luck and deflates to just league average he will look a lot less appealing. God forbid Constanza actually starts to get unlucky and hits below league average.

What does all this mean? That luck is not an indicator of future success. Luck can only be read from past performance. Sitting Heyward is actively hurting his development; development that will not be helped by being sent to the minors. Constanza is a great story and I hope he continues to rake as he has, but he will eventually come to Earth. Heyward is the better player by any measurement but speed and he is no slowpoke. You play your best players because they are the ones that will give you the best results over time. Constanza has the “hot hand”.. but you cannot predict when that “hot hand” will cool. Talent predicts future performance, not luck. Hope my novel makes sense and I know there will be many that disagree, but I stand by my reasoning and my conclusion that sitting Heyward for Constanza is not a good thing. Sometimes results just don’t mirror process. Like the old saying goes.. Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.

Bearcat Cook

August 11th, 2011
9:58 pm

J HEY NEEDS TO BE ON THE NEXT BUS TO ROME WITH NO A/C. THEN COME BACK WHEN HE MATURES AND LEARNS SOMETHING. IF MANAGEMENT DOES NOT DO THIS, THEN THEY ARE TO BLAME. LET’S TRY TO GO FRONT OFFICE. PUSH THE RIGHT BUTTON NOW!

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:01 pm

Delgado got his 2nd win at Gwinette with 7 shutout innings meanwhile their $1.00 catcher Nieves is batting .370

Heyward grounds out to second

August 11th, 2011
10:01 pm

Constanza is the man, and I think if he continues this way of playing throughout the year, we should keep him in the big leagues.

All you Heyward supporters (and I like Heyward) need to realize he just doesn’t have it this year. He might be better next year, but he has been atrocious this year. What would you rather have? A guy who strikes out and grounds out to second and has slumped all year, or an explosive, speedy guy that gets on base and scores runs?

Next year may be different, but right now Constanza is the man and needs to be utilized.

mpimentel

August 11th, 2011
10:02 pm

what a B I G comment dude

Guthro

August 11th, 2011
10:04 pm

Never got the ball out of the infield and still went 3 for 4, i love it!

mpimentel

August 11th, 2011
10:05 pm

cuzdanza…..that´s the name that we like it……cuz-danza….cuz-danza….cuz-danza—–cuz-danza……cuz-danza……..cuz-danza……..cuz-danza…….yeah……a nickname for him…

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:05 pm

I know it’s long and I’m sure a lot of readers will gloss over it. But I think the information in it is worthy of being read.

Joseph

August 11th, 2011
10:07 pm

Heyward, didn’t Vince teach you that “talent” is predictable? SARCASM.

Vince, nothing can be predicted. I do give you credit for using Sabermetrics while trying to not mention it. “Luck” and hitting bad pitches is the crux of production in any level of baseball. Most HRs…..what are the pitches? Mistakes. Bad location. Or hung breaking pitches. Mistakes. Heyward gives this team the best chance to win today? Really? The last game, they both played. Faced the exact same pitchers. Who was the only starter that didn’t get a hit? Oh sorry Constanza was just lucky 3 times. I’m sure if Heyward had made contact on any of his 3 strikeouts, he would have beat out those plays as well right? But that is luck, I guess.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
10:08 pm

of course constanza isn’t this good….nobody is.. braves fans don’t believe he will hit .413 over a 600 at bat season, but the fact remains that he is doing it right now. i doubt jason could pick his best 12 games all year and hit .413. the whole team is energized and playing exciting baseball and we like it.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:10 pm

Vince M, I agree we should sit Constanza in favor of Heyward and forget about winning the wild card and going to the playoff’s an let Heyward struggle through the rest of the season until he patches that hole in his swing.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
10:11 pm

i guess we would rather be lucky than…have potential.

Sam The Swami

August 11th, 2011
10:12 pm

Michael Bourn has been unbelievable and Constanza has been great too. I hope Bourn gets a huge standing ovation when he is announced at home. He’s a clutch hitter and his defensive play has saved several extra base hits.

Mike

August 11th, 2011
10:13 pm

Whoever said Heyward is a flop will be feelin like the cheesey idiot he/she is, real soon.

Give me a break…

Furman Bitcher

August 11th, 2011
10:18 pm

HE IS THE HOT HAND. you ride this horse as long as you can. Will he hit .400 all year. Um no but he is a HELL of a lot better to have up right now than Heyward LUCK OR NO LUCK. Maybe poor Jason is just an unlucky guy. I like Georgie.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:19 pm

@Joseph, you don’t respect Sabermetrics. That’s fair. But all I mentioned was BA on balls in play. That’s the least SABR of any of the sabermetrics. Reaching base on 45% of the balls in play is NOT sustainable. And using a 1 game sample size to compare talent between Heyward and Constanza will not impress anyone.

I didn’t say that talent is predictable. I said that Heyward is more talented than Constanza. That is something that any scout or personnel man will tell you regardless of their SABR leanings. Talent plays in any sports league. With the exception of Heywards last strikeout, his other two were on very close calls. They were strikes, but I don’t mind him taking them because swinging at them would likely not be any better as they were very good pitches.

I’m not trying to take anything away from Constanza. I love what that kid is doing and I hope he continues it. All I’m trying to say is that he is not better than Heyward. Constanza could bat 1.000 with a slugging percentage of 4.000 for the rest of the season and that fact wouldn’t change. Sending Heyward to the Minors would not help his development.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:22 pm

Not only has Constanza helped us create runs with his speed but he has also prevented several runs in the field with catches no other current or in recent history, outfielder couuld have made.

Furman Bitcher

August 11th, 2011
10:23 pm

If Costanza has a .350 OBP the rest of the year he should start instead of Heyward. heyward is the future but we need to win now with the players who are playing best. thats Georgie.

Rowsdower

August 11th, 2011
10:23 pm

@Vince M – All the more reason for Heyward to go down to Gwinnett for a few weeks and hopefully get his head out of his…his head together.

Obviously, Constanza is not going to hit .400 the rest of his career or the rest of this year for that matter. Even if he hits .250 that’s better than Heyward is providing to this point. And noone is comparing him to Rickey or Ichiro. Hudson merely stated that facing a waterbug that is on fire is a pain in the ass because a routine groundball can turn into a double.

Furman Bitcher

August 11th, 2011
10:24 pm

Its the Summer Of Georgie

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:24 pm

@Ralph So you can guarantee that Constanza will continue with his hot hand the rest of the season and that Heyward will continue to struggle the rest of the year.. On top of that you will tell me that playing Heyward will cost us AT least 5 wins over the rest of the year as compared to Constanza? Really?

Furman Bitcher

August 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

Vince, your argument with all your pretty stats just doesnt add up. RIGHT NOW Georgie is the hot hand an Heyward is colder than anyone on the team. There are no guarantees he is just the hot hitter and Heyward has struggled ALL year. If Heyward was only in a mini slump it wouldnt even be considered.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:28 pm

Vince M, that last sentence I will guarntee it.

Carroll

August 11th, 2011
10:29 pm

I agree with the blogger who said he reminds them of Charles Thomas…I already thought the same thing. So maybe he will be just a flash in the pan like Thomas?? We should be so lucky! That guy’s energy catapulted us into the playoffs that year and then netted us Tim Hudson in the following offseason. Not a bad return on a flash in the pan! ;-)

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:30 pm

Heyward is a crappy outfielder, Constanza will take away at least one or two hits per game that Heyward would never get to.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:31 pm

@Furman If you could guarantee that Constanza would carry a .350 OBP the rest of the year, I would jump on board the Constanza train and even be the engineer. His talent level does not support that guarantee though. If his luck just returns to league average he will have a lower OBP than Heyward does RIGHT now. Baseball is a lot like Poker. Pocket Aces don’t guarantee you a winner every time, but they’ll win a lot more than they’ll lose over the long haul. That seven-deuce offsuit might be lucky for you, but on average, it will do way worse than those pocket Aces.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
10:33 pm

i don’t think anyone is guaranteeing that constanza will stay hot. quite the opposite, everyone knows he can’t keep this hot streak going.we won’t know if jason will get hot because georgie needs to keep playing until he can’t hit .250 anymore. jason had 2 good months last year, who’s to say that georgie can’t have 2 good months this year

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:35 pm

@Furman, they aren’t pretty stats. They are just cold hard facts. And you are partially right. Yesterday, Constanza was the hot hand. Tomorrow he might flame out and return to league average or worse. That’s my point. You can’t predict how long luck will last. All you know with any real certainty is who the likely better player is.

And as for mini-slump vs all year struggles, I present exhibit Uggla.

Joseph

August 11th, 2011
10:35 pm

Exactly Carroll. Speaking of the off-season. I can not think of one like this one coming that is actually going to be this interesting with so many storylines. What is done with the pitching staff? Is Medlen given a chance to get his starting job back? Does Constanza stay? Bourn? Do they see if Viz can turn into a starter or is he purely a reliever? Wren has his work cut out for him.

Maybe Constanza never gets another hit and Heyward goes on an Uggla-like tear. Anything can happen, but until Constanza stops producing runs, HE HAS TO PLAY. He beat out a chopper, then steals a base and scores on a bloop hit by Hudson. 3 pitches thrown. Other than Bourn, who else has that capability? The game is changing before our eyes and speed is necessary now. Unless you play in a small park of course.

Joseph

August 11th, 2011
10:38 pm

Vince that was weak. Comparing Uggla to Heyward? 1 has a career of production. THe other has only played 1 year and just turned 22.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:43 pm

Vince M, can you guarntee if they play Heyward the rest of the year that he will end the season with a .200 plus BA, I sure as hell wouldn’t put any money on it, on the other hand I would bet everything I own that Constanza will bat better than .250

P.S, Wren isn’t going to bet on Heyward either.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:43 pm

@rugburn Yes, I know that no one is guaranteeing anything. And I don’t think my argument is actually being taken seriously which is too bad. It comes supported with facts, good reasoning, and has been presented very politely the whole time. The only response I continue to get is either that my stats are meaningless, which is a cop-out. Or that Constanza is the hot hand so why not ride him. That latter rationale is exactly like riding Double-zero’s in Roulette because it’s won the last two times. The double zero from the last spin does not increase or decrease the chance of double zero the next spin. Is Constanza locked in? Seems like it, but all we know is that he was locked in yesterday. And when will he not be locked in? What if he goes 0 – 4 tomorrow? Does that mean he’s lost it? What about 0 – 8 the next two days? Or even 0 – 12 the next three? What if he gets 1 hit on Saturday where he beats out an infield single but goes hitless the rest of the series? Hot hands are a fallacy in that they cannot be used to predict future performance with any reasonable chance of success. And worse, it is very difficult to recognize when the hot hand is no longer hot.

Plus, who is to say that Heyward wouldn’t similarly go off given the AB’s Constanza has had? His season to this point wouldn’t support that, but neither would Uggla’s. Uggla is case in point on why you let talent play. Eventually, usually sooner than later, it pays off. And to anyone who thinks that 1 player can cost (or win) a team 5 wins over 46 games, you don’t know baseball.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
10:44 pm

the argument to play heyward because of his potential, even though he is completely lost, is the same as saying we should’ve continued to pitch proctor because he has a 95 mph fastball. why get bourn when we had shafer? results are what matter.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:46 pm

@Joseph Uh uh, You can’t have that double standard. Constanza has had 12 games of performance to judge by. If you can’t use Uggla to show that Heyward can and will eventually come out of his slump, then you can’t use Constanza’s performance over 12 games to show that he’s a better option than Heyward.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:47 pm

Maybe Heyward should start licking his bat!

NickB

August 11th, 2011
10:50 pm

Ralph is wrong, heyward is a+ fielder according to EVERY fielding statistic, in fact he’s a top 10 Fileder in RF. Constanza is a below average fielder and has been his entire career in the minors…. He makes the average play look spectacular because of his horrible ability to read the ball off the bat and take good routes. He’s hitting, getting a good deal lucky, but he is hitting. But don’t let yer bromance with Georgie cloud reality here.

Joseph

August 11th, 2011
10:50 pm

Uggla has produced for the prior 5 years. That is why he was still out there during the worst part of his career. Heyward has played only 1 full year. Uggla has real numbers to show what he has done in a professional career. Heyward doesn’t. Sooner than later it pays off? Ok Vince, so is Heyward going to produce this year? I give up. Let’s sit a guy that is actually playing defense, running the bases, getting hits, driving in runs, AND SCORING RUNS and let Heyward struggle at the plate and make outs this year.

Heyward has a bright future, but you cannot put him out there when this team is in the playoffs. There isn’t time to learn, right now. It is time for production and Constanza has been doing that. Period.

Brava

August 11th, 2011
10:50 pm

I didn’t say that talent is predictable. I said that Heyward is more talented than Constanza.

It depends on how you define talent. They are too completely different types of players, so it’s impossible to say one is more talented than the other. Can Constanza hit 18 homeruns as Heyward did last season? No, he doesn’t have the power. Can Heyward steal 28 bases as Constanza dis this year in Gwinnett? It’s doubtful, he’s stolen 16 in the past two seasons. Can Heyward go from 1st to third as fast as Constanza? No. Can Heyward play all the outfield positions? Who knows, he hasn’t. Can Constanza throw as hard and far as Heyward? No.

What I’m saying is they both have their strengths and their weaknesses. It all depends on what talent you are evaluating whether one is better than the other.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:50 pm

Pastronicky is hitting over .400 but makes a lot of errors, maybe we should promote him and play him over gonzo because of his potential.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:52 pm

@Rugburn Talent isn’t the same as being able to throw a 95 mph fastball. Proctor could throw fast, but it was thrown straight with little to no movement and he had no good secondary pitches. So, no, Proctor had no potential.

Bourn is also way more talented than Schafer. Results are what matter to the final standings. I won’t argue that. However the only way you can put yourself in position for the best results is to play your players with the most potential to get you those results. You can luck into better results by going against that philosophy, but that doesn’t mean you did the right thing.

As for Heyward being completely lost, that’s not true. He’s not swinging as well as he should. That hole in his swing, wherever it is, needs to be corrected. It will be corrected. However it will not be corrected at the Minor league level for reasons I have already discussed (short story: most Minor league pitchers suck and can’t exploit those holes). But he still has a very good idea of the strike zone and for the most part his approach is solid. Sporting a .314 OBP when he is hitting as poorly as he is is actually pretty impressive. As he gets out of this, that number will go up pretty significantly.

Joshua

August 11th, 2011
10:53 pm

Remember when people were screaming for Uggla to be sent to the minors? How’d that work out?

Send Heyward to the minors…lol…I’m sure the Phillies think that’s a terrific idea.

NickB

August 11th, 2011
10:55 pm

No Brava , that’s not how talent works. Heyward possesses greater skills as a whole for the playing of baseball. He gets on base hits for power players superior defense and has a better arm. I reckon he could steal 30 bases a year if Fredi turned him loose. ( I doubt if his % would be very good, but then again Constanzas wasn’t very good, 73% , either)

Constanza is harles Thomas part deaux. Eventually pitchers are going to stop throwing him strikes and he will swing himself back on the bench. Seriously he swings at everything, why throw him strikes?

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:55 pm

Nick B, Heyward doesn’t make a lot of errors but there are many, many balls that drop in front of him that Constanza would get eaisly, those don’t show up in the fielding stats.

Brava

August 11th, 2011
10:55 pm

Send Heyward to the minors…lol…I’m sure the Phillies think that’s a terrific idea.

What do the Phillies have to do with it?

They might think it’s a good idea, they sent Dominic Brown down to work on his problems.

NickB

August 11th, 2011
10:56 pm

Yes Ralph only you are a judge of fielding. 8 different defesnive metrics, though not perfect, are obviously wrong………………… it’s like talking to a cat on here sometimes……..

Rowsdower

August 11th, 2011
10:56 pm

Constanza has produced a run in 30.4% of his ABs. Heyward has produced a run in 10.7% in the same period of time. Runs are the only statistic that matter in baseball. You factor in runs saved with the defense that Constanza is playing and its a runaway.

Are those numbers sustainable of a full season, no. But they are certainly sustainable for a month. Particularly for a guy that simply needs to put the ball in play to get a hit. Speed is the wildcard for bABIP. The same ball that Constanza puts in play is more likely to be a hit than it is for a slower player.

Just for perspective, Uggla has produced a run in 48.2% in that same time. He’s been running pretty “lucky” too, hasn’t he?

BTW…it’s 4-0 Astros over the D-Bags!!!

up north

August 11th, 2011
10:57 pm

Does anyone remember Ralph Garr, the Roadrunner-beep beep?! That is who I thought of the first time I saw him running the bases.

Vince M

August 11th, 2011
10:57 pm

@Ralph Setting up multiple strawman arguments isn’t the way to reasonably debate a difference of opinions. I’ve argued my point while respecting everyone else’s argument this whole time. I’ve debated the points made and kept it to that. Saying that Pastornicky should be played over Gonzales as a tongue in cheek way to negate my potential over luck argument is nonsensical. Pastornicky is similarly playing over his head. His potential is that of a slightly above league average SS. His defense is nowhere near Gonzales but his hitting will be markedly better, eventually. However, the real reason your strawman argument fails is because Pastornicky is not ready for the big leagues yet. He still has development that needs to happen. Any scout or personnel man worth their salt would agree with that statement. Heyward has nothing to gain from going to the Minors. If anything, it might actually hurt his development.

Ralph

August 11th, 2011
10:58 pm

I’m just glad Fruti is making the line up instead of Vince M and Nick B.

NickB

August 11th, 2011
10:58 pm

I’m not talking about errors. I’m talking range, angles and positioning. Heyward is a better fielder by a large margin over Constanza. Heck in CF , Constanzas minor league numbers would make him the worst CF glove in MLB!!! in LF he would be avg (but then again, most MLB LF’ers are lugs who hit) in RF he would be in the bottom 5………… Heyward is in the top 10….. He’s really good out there.

NickB

August 11th, 2011
11:00 pm

If i was managing the team I bet they would have 3 more wins right now.

rugburn

August 11th, 2011
11:02 pm

i feel sure that the phillies would much rather pitch to heyward right now than to pitch to constanza. so vince, do we put viscaino in friday night in a tie game? somewhere you have to draw a line between potential and results. what about leading off the ninth in a tie game , do you want what j-hey is bringing or what georgie is bringing?

Joseph

August 11th, 2011
11:05 pm

Give Wren a call then Nick. I’m sure he is ready to fire a manager that is 2nd in the NL with an injury riddled team.

Sam

August 11th, 2011
11:05 pm

Honestly Heyward will never have a high BA with balls in play at this rate. 70% of the balls he does hit are grounders to 1st or 2nd. Still I think he will be a force, maybe more at the Ryan Howard pace though. Not everyone can start bashing the ball at 20 or 21. I think Heyward should go down and stay down. He will really be ready to contribute middle of next summer at the trade deadline. Maybe even later than that though. The Braves have a history of rushing young talent. Look at how much better those young pitching prospects are pitching with another year on them. Look at Freddie Freeman this year with that extra seasoning year. He’s having a lot better rookie year than Heyward did and should win ROY. So what I ask is patience with someone who will be a monster for opposing pitchers someday.

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