Prado, the most versatile and patient Brave, finishing strong

MIAMI – He went 4-for-4 with two RBIs in the Braves’ 7-5 win against the Marlin on Monday to raise his team-best batting average to .303, and three of Martin Prado’s four hits came with two strikes.

This was not unusual for the most versatile – and patient — Brave, who swings at fewer first pitches than any National League hitter, and has a higher two-strike batting average (.281) than anyone in the majors except Washington’s Jayson Werth (.298).

“He doesn’t have to cheat [on a pitch] and he protects the plate,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s not afraid to take a strike, any situation. Bases loaded, sometimes you’re thinking, ambush him right here [on first pitch]. But he’ll take strike 1, and then still come up and get a big hit.”

Prado swings at only 8.3 percent of first pitches. By contrast, teammate Freddie Freeman swings at 45.2 percent of first pitches, second-most in the NL.

In three of his four at-bats Monday, Prado took first-pitch strikes, and in one he took the first two pitches for strikes. Again, he went 4-for-4 in the game.

Prado actually had more doubles (23 doubles), home runs (five) and RBIs (36) when batting with two strikes than he did when batting with less than two strikes.

His four-hit game matched a career high and raised his NL-leading total to 55 multi-hit games. Prado was the only Brave who stayed hot throughout the team’s recent offense malaise, hitting .333 with 15 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs and an .871 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 34 games before Tuesday.

He did that while moving between positions, from his usual left field to fill in a few games for benched Dan Uggla at second base, at third base at times for Chipper Jones, and at shortstop when the Braves needed more offense than they were getting from Paul Janish while Andrelton Simmons was on the disabled list.

He was at shortstop again Tuesday after Simmons banged up his left shoulder making a diving play Monday.

“He’s a force,” Gonzalez said of Prado. “[People] don’t realize how valuable he is, offensively and defensively. He’s been giving you great at-bats every night. Is he having numbers-wise better numbers than in his All-Star year?”

No, but close. Prado hit .307 with a .350 OBP and .809 OPS in his 2010 All-Star season, with 40 doubles, three triples, 15 homers and 66 RBIs in 140 games. This season he hit .303 with a .357 OBP and .791 OPS in 143 games before Tuesday, with 38 doubles, five triples, nine homers and 66 RBIs.

He’s had the bounce-back season he and the Brave hoped for after hitting .260 with a .302 OBP and .687 OPS in 129 games in 2011, when he had a five-week DL stint at midseason for staph infection in his legs, and struggled after returning.

He’s managed to avoid any significant injuries this season, but Prado knocks on wood and barely addressed the subject when asked. The memory is fresh not just of last season’s woes, but the groin and oblique injuries that kept him out of the 2010 postseason and the broken finger that DL’d him shortly after that 2010 All-Star game.

“I’m not going to say the whole season, because we’ve got 14 games left,” he said before Tuesday’s game. “But pretty much, yeah, pretty good so far. I’m glad that I’ve been able to stay healthy.”

As for his league-leading 55 multi-hit games, he said, “I don’t think about that stuff. I just go as far as I can go. That’s all I can do.”

Teammates say he’s the epitome of a good teammate and cares only about winning. Prado said he’s just happy to be contributing to wins in a playoff race.

“Yeah, man, that’s all that matters right now,” he said. “I go home and I’m thinking, ‘We won today. Got to keep going.’”

27 comments Add your comment

David from Athens, AL

September 18th, 2012
7:10 pm

Excellent article …. thanks!

Bobby's Cox

September 18th, 2012
7:25 pm

The heart of the Braves and the epitome of a team player. What’s not to love about Martin Prado?

Oh'man

September 18th, 2012
7:31 pm

Dude, Martin Prado needs to get an extension ASAP ! He has been our MVP for the past three of the four years. I do miss Omar Infante too, he was a beast as well. I hope we don’t make that mistake with Prado.

Ty

September 18th, 2012
8:42 pm

This Braves team is looking HOT coming down the stretch of the regular season. This week I believe is moving week for the Braves in the division because:

-Braves are playing a potential easy team this week (MIA) who will be playing spoiler to the playoff run.

-The Dodgers are playing in Washington, needing to have a good series in D.C. to catch up with the Cardinals for 2nd (in which I might add who have a pretty easy series at home against Houston).

-This weekend we go to Philadelphia, where they will be looking for redemption against the Braves from the last series, who are racing to try and sneak into the playoffs, and who can be potentially also play a roll in spoiler alert for the playoffs.

Keep the bats rolling and “Let’s Go Braves!”

birdo

September 18th, 2012
9:08 pm

Prado needs a pay raise. This guy is our most valuable player by far. I really like the way he plays the game.

Mikey

September 18th, 2012
9:40 pm

Get use to McCann as our LH/PH along with Johnson in the playoffs guys!

Mikey

September 18th, 2012
10:00 pm

Way to be Johney

Geno

September 18th, 2012
10:20 pm

FG gives up by leaving Gearin in the game after walking two….

Geno

September 18th, 2012
10:23 pm

I rest my case….

Pee Wee Coach

September 18th, 2012
10:25 pm

Wow, what a game…fun to watch, until the end. We gotta hit.

Vino Fino

September 18th, 2012
10:35 pm

That was one of the worst bullpen decisions I have ever seen!!! What the BLEEP was Fredi doing with Gearrin still in there???? DOB will you please ask Fredi what the hell he was thinking?

ChipperisGod

September 18th, 2012
11:49 pm

Lock Prado up for years. The man has more than proven himself and is arguably the best player on this team, and is easily the most versatile.

I agree Vino Fino. Gearrin should have been pulled when Reyes was coming up. Why not use Avilan? First really bad move Fredi’s made in a while.

David O'Brien

September 19th, 2012
12:23 am

I agree Vino Fino. Gearrin should have been pulled when Reyes was coming up. Why not use Avilan? First really bad move Fredi’s made in a while. — ChipperisGood

Avilan pitched the past three nights in a row, and I really don’t think Gonzalez and McDowell want to run the rookie out there four in a row for the first time in his career, especially not this late in the season and this close to the postseason.

Bob the Blogger

September 19th, 2012
12:38 am

Because of Prado’s versatility, the Braves will have the option of obtaining either a third baseman or left fielder this winter. He is very deserving of a long term contract.

I was a little miffed at the decision to bring in Gearrin for a third straight game. He wasn’t good enough to be on the team last month, now he’s used in three straight games. A more rested arm would have been a better choice.

IdahoBravesFan

September 19th, 2012
7:11 am

I wish Prado could become the hitting coach. Why in the world can’t the rest of our guys be more consistent?

Davey Sprocket

September 19th, 2012
11:03 am

PRado is not the answer at multiple positions. YOu really want a dozen-or-so HR guy at the LF power spot? You want that dozen HR and 60-70 RBI at the hot corner? No. To be an advantage in teh lineup, he needs to play at 2B, where his numbers will put him closer to the offensive top for his position. (He will still produce a notch or two below Espinosa, Utley and a few guys, but not as bad a drop compared to powerful 3B and LFers)

RT (Riverdale)

September 19th, 2012
11:29 am

Prado MVP. Fredi stinks.

Heisenberg

September 19th, 2012
11:32 am

Any news on Janish injury? I hate to say it but they way he fell looked a lot like the final play of Drew Brees tenure as a San Diego Charger.

crm300

September 19th, 2012
11:36 am

A couple of guys were giving me a hard time yesterday for criticizing Fredi. What do you have to say today? This team succeeds in spite of Fredi! Would probably be leading the division with a different manager.

tjhook

September 19th, 2012
11:47 am

Prado is my favorite player: clutch, prepared, always engaged when at bat. Just an awesome performer. Oh, and can play almost every field position WELL. Did not know about Janish’s injury; hope he will be okay. He is an important part of the team.

Brave New World

September 19th, 2012
12:15 pm

Prado is the type of player every club wants.

Bill

September 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

It’s a shame “all star” voting is done before the season is half over. It would nice to have recognition of the full year’s work like All Pro in football. Martin would certainly be on the first team!!

ChipperisGod

September 19th, 2012
3:49 pm

Didn’t realize that, Dave. Of course one of those was one pitch against Harper on Saturday, but I get Fredi’s reasoning behind it now. Seems like every time I question what he’s doing, he has actually has a legitimate reason for ding what he’s doing.

MARTEEEN!

September 19th, 2012
3:58 pm

Fredi said of Prado, “people don’t realize how valuable he is”. OH YES,WE DO!

bobbymahlon

September 19th, 2012
4:21 pm

I think when fans vote for the players they don’t think of Prado as either a left fielder or a third baseman so he doesn’t get the votes that he would if he played one position.
Mr Sprocket when you say Prado plays a notch or two below Espinosa you better look again or maybe you like guys who strike out between 175-200 times a year and hit for around .250 if he’s lucky this year. When you match his numbers with Utley it is probably not fair seeing that Chase normally bats third so he has more chances at RBIs. Chase will hit more home runs but that is about all he has on Martin.

Quack Quack

September 19th, 2012
4:32 pm

Thanks DOB for the great article. Prado is pure “PLAYER” all the time. If everyone on our Team played everyday like he does, we would be unbeatable. Someone posted the other day about using him as a pitcher, I’m sure that after a few games he would be our new ACE.

GO BRAVES!!!….Lets get this championship!!

Pay Prado his money

September 20th, 2012
12:24 am

Pay him the money. I still can’t believe that idiot tried to trade him last winter. I don’t buy the lf/3b argument. Trying to get more at those positions in free agency will equal wasted money, worse fielding, and more strikeouts. Prado is dirt. Every great team needs a dirtball.

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