My favorite player, probably the Braves’ best player unless Chipper’s power rebounds in a big way. Made the All-Star team in 2003, was on the verge of getting voted in last year when he collided with Andruw and hurt his shoulder. Unlike the 2003 injury, which just cost him a couple of weeks, the 2004 injury kept him out for more than a month, and when he came back he wasn’t the same player, but contrary to belief (including mine before I looked it up) the loss was mostly in batting average, not power.
Before the break, he was hitting .339/.381/.475; afterwards he hit .299/.377/.429. He wasn’t walking much before the injury, but started more of that when he came back, and his isolated power only dropped by six points. When you break it down by months, though, you’ll see that he came back pretty strong in July, went into a deep Andruwesque slump in August, and was terrific the rest of the way. I think he was pretty much through the injury within six weeks, but August dragged his numbers down. He did only hit eight homers, but the doubles were still there. If he can stay out of everyone’s way we could be in for a treat.
Has come a long, long way defensively from the player the Braves thought they’d have to move to left field. His range factors are very good, and the more advanced stats also have him a plus defender. Stole 17 bases in 21 attempts. Adds OBP with HBP, doesn’t ground into many double plays (of course, Furcal is often running in front of him), just generally a terrific all-around player.
Who’s the best second baseman in Atlanta history? Felix Millan, I guess, him or Glenn Hubbard. Marcus only has a couple years as a regular, but he’s a superior player to either of those worthies; if he plays three more years in Atlanta I’d rank him first. The best second baseman in Braves history is probably Bobby Lowe, more than a century ago. (Well, they had Hornsby for a year, Schoendienst for two, but the best to be mostly a Brave.) Marcus should pass him too. The best year any second baseman has had for Bobby Cox was Marcus, 2003; the second-best was probably Marcus, 2004.