A fan favorite who’s managed to shoulder his way, unexpectedly, into the team’s plans. Mark was a football player, indeed a quarterback, in college, and came to baseball relatively late. Nobody really thought he’d be more than a bit player in the majors, but he’s hit and played defense well enough that — combined with the struggles of more hyped players — the Braves are looking for a place to play him. Rumor has it that they’re going to give him a chance to beat out Vinny Castilla at third, which he should do in a fair fight. I hope so, but he could also take second base from Marcus Giles, or be used at short and push Furcal to second. He’s even played some outfield, but he can’t really play the position and doesn’t have the bat for it anyway.
It’s important that people not get too excited by DeRosa. There are still some holes in his game. Though he hit .297 last year, he only drew 12 walks in 232 plate appearances, an awful, Wes Helmsesque ratio, and his OBP was only .339. (That’s also his career mark.) And while he has some power, it’s not enough to overcome a subpar OBP. He’s a pretty good shortstop or second baseman, but unproven at third. He runs well, but lacks the instincts of someone with a more complete baseball background and is only 4-for-8 career as a basestealer.
It may be that even though Mark is entering his age 28 season that he’s still learning the game. Given his athletic ability, he could still make a jump or two. If he can control the strike zone better (and he’s shown signs of it in the minor leagues) he could be a much more productive hitter.
I am all for DeRosa getting a legitimate shot at starting this year. Preferably, he’ll beat out Castilla at third. He doesn’t offer the type of power numbers one usually wants at third, but he does have a lot of positives. I’m not sold on the notion that he’ll remain a guy that hits in the .290 – .310 range over 500 + at-bats, but I’d like to see him prove he can! He can handle the bat and has a good knowledge of the strike zone and situational hitting. The team can best utilize that ability in the 2 hole behind Furcal. He has shown a good stroke in the alleys and an ability to get a bunt down. Those bode well for the guy being used as a table setter. This season, if Fick delivers the power expected and Giles plays everyday, they will certainly supply more power than the 3B and 1B positions supplied last season. DeRosa can be best utilized to help move runners and make it harder to pitch around the third bat in the lineup.
I like DeRosa, he’s a gamer. He helps supply hustle and fire to a club I’ve dubbed the Atlanta Automotons in years past because of the lack of emotion or fire displayed by the team. At the least, DeRosa is already a “super-utility” player, able to contribute whereever he’s needed.
DeRosa is a throwback type…he’s a ballplayer.
I go back and forth on whether I like DeRosa as a player or not. He’s done very well at maintaining a good BA at the major league level, and I was as miffed as could be when he was replaced by Rey Sanchez in late 2001. But the dude has only 26 walks in the majors so far, and of those, _9_ have been intentional. 17 unintentional walks in 400+PA don’t excite me at all.
As long as DeRosa hits around .300 with power, I can live without the walks. Ideally, I’d love everyone to bat .300/.420/.510, but the world needs ditch-diggers, too. I don’t ever expect DeRosa to be an all-star, but he’s a damn sight better than recent Atlanta middle infield stiffs like Lockhart, Guillen and Belliard.
Those numbers are okay for a middle infielder, but I’d want more from a third baseman. Then again, he might have it in him. I’m not convinced he’s a mature player yet. It’s interested to watch a football guy who doesn’t have the Bo/Deion/Booty pressure on him develop. He’s not as good of an athlete as those guys, of course, but that might actually be in his favor.
I’m sure DeRosa is also glad he doesn’t have … er, “Booty pressure” … on him.