I was right about this guy, then I was wrong. LaRoche, throughout his minor league career, tended to have a pretty severe adjustment period. The Braves, rather unusually for them, had gotten into a pattern of promoting Adam at midseason. In 2001, he struggled at Myrtle Beach and started to repeat the circuit in 2002, but was promoted to AA after 69 games because he was hitting .336/.406/.512. He didn’t do very well in Greenville — he was okay — so they started him there in 2003. Once again, he pounded the circuit on a repeat, so they promoted him to AAA after 61 games. He did okay in Richmond and got the Braves’ job in 2004. I mentioned in last year’s comment that there was a chance he’d have another adjustment period.
So when he struggled, instead of looking back and saying, “He’ll do better in the second half, once he’s gotten his legs under him,” I wanted the Braves to get some other first baseman to take his job. Adam rebounded very nicely from a slow start and a shoulder injury. In the first half he was pretty awful, hitting .250/.292/.388; in the second half, he was terrific, hitting .302/.368/.576. The final averages of .278/.333/.488 will more than do for a rookie. You’d like to see more walks, but that should come in time. For what it’s worth, his percentages as a rookie are pretty close to Rico Brogna’s career highs. So unless this is the best we’re going to get, I think we can scratch that comparison.
One of the disappointments of LaRoche’s early work was that he seemed pretty lost defensively after being touted as a good glove. It’s hard to get a handle on first base defense, but it appeared to me that he got better as the year went on. At the least, Bobby didn’t feel the need to get him out of there for Franco at the end of games, and sometimes would bring LaRoche in for defense late… Painfully slow, didn’t attempt a stolen base, but did hit one triple. Probably doesn’t need to be platooned but will be anyway, and was pinch-hit for and used as a pinch-hitter a lot. Only had 26 PA against lefties, and hit just .250 but with six walks, a double, and a homer for a .250/.423/.450, which doesn’t mean much of anything considering how few appearances we’re talking about. Better on the road than at home, like Estrada and like other lefthanded-hitting Braves in the Turner Field era. Struck out 72 times, which is a lot for only 324 AB and something to worry about if you worry about such things.