Omar Infante

Omar Infante Statistics and History –

Omar was having an amazing year, hitting .349 off the bench through May 20, when his hand was broken on a hit-by-pitch. He worked his way back and returned August 11, though he did not hit as well as he had in the first half. You can’t really expect .349, of course, and he was still a valuable bench player.

Infante might be the best utility player the Braves have had. (I would rank him with Mark DeRosa and Jerry Royster.) In each of the last two seasons, he’s played six positions, including a credible shortstop, and hit reasonably well, albeit for little power. I call this kind of a player a Nail — as in, a small thing, but for the want of him, pennants are lost.

Doesn’t really shine at any one position, but provides consistent play in a C+ to C- range. That’s immensely valuable… Didn’t ground into a double play in the first half, but into five when he returned, and was probably a step slow as well as hurt.

42 thoughts on “Omar Infante”

  1. Infante is a superstar compared to some of the other utility guys Bobby has run out there over the years. Just think, we could still be watching Pete Orr and his Canadian magic….

  2. I was at a game 2 years ago when infanted superman’d over the fence to rob a homerun (well, not really, but it still looked nice). I’m an infante fan and I’m glad he’ll be a brave in 2010.

    every aspect of his offensive game has improved with the braves: +20 slugging, +49 obp, +45 avg, +70 ops.

  3. You could write off one season as a fluke, but 2 years of 100 OPS+ can’t be ignored. I have to think he really is a .300 hitter. At 2nd, and as a bench guy, he is very very useful.

  4. I went to three spring training games last year, and was really struck by Infante’s reverence for the national anthem. He just seemed to take the moment incredibly seriously. Instead of standing outside the lines he was out in center, all alone with his head bowed almost as if in prayer. Same thing all three games I was at. I’m not the kinda guy that always feels the solemnity of the national anthem, but watching Infante I couldn’t help it. He seems like a class act.

  5. Omar Infante 2002-2007:

    .253/.298/.386/.683 (81 OPS+) in 173s PA’s 5.8 BB%, 17.7 K%, 1.9 HR%, .293 BABIP, 19 LD%

    Omar Infante 2008-2009:

    .298/.347/.406/.753 (100 OPS+) in 577 PA’s 7.1 BB%, 12.5 K%, 0.9 HR%, .332 BABIP, 24 LD%

    The walk rates are well within one standard deviation, but he does seem to have struck out less, though 577 PA’s is about a quarter of the sample I’d like to have. Mostly it’s just a 40 point jump in BABIP, not coincidentally resulting in a 45 point jump in batting average. Fundamentally, he’s the same guy. He has hit more line drives with the Braves, which is responsible for some of the BABIP.

    He’s right around his peak (twenty eight years old next season), so I think it’s reasonable to expect something closer to what he’s done the past two seasons than what he did for the previous six.

    I’ll take just about anything to keep Diory Hernandez and/or Joe Thurston off the active roster, and Infante is far better than either of those guys.

  6. so I think it’s reasonable to expect something closer to what he’s done the past two seasons than what he did for the previous six.

    This is a good rule in general.

  7. On the Heyward thing,

    The issue is not whether they pay him Super 2 money for 1 year. That raises the arb floor for the remaining 3 years.

    But still, that isn’t the big issue. Basically if he comes up on April 5 (rather than April 1), you have bought an extra whole year.

    But then, that isn’t the whole issue. This year is year 20. The extra year you will get is Year 26. He will be a vastly better player in Year 26 than in Year 20.

    Further, there is a lot of difference between “ready for MLB” and “exceptional”. He has the kind of numbers that suggest Major League Equivalent of 800 ops. Melky has done 700 to 750 in his career in the AL. Diaz has done 750 against righthanders and 900 against lefthanders. The odds of Heyward being even enough better to equal extra WAR of even .5 (That is 1/3 season and both Melky and Diaz add WAR so it is how much BETTER he would have to be) over the 60 days at the beginning of the seaon are VERY VERY LOW.

    I think bringing Heyward up early should be more driven by problems with the other guys. As in, if Diaz goes on the DL, Heyward is up right then. If not, see where you are on June 1.

    In other words there is little chance you will be SUBSTANTIALLY better, some chance you will be worse, AND you are conceding a lot of future value in the process.

  8. I think he was just stating the organizational structure of the team in a way Mets fans could understand.

  9. Kremlin watching. LOL.
    So who is winning in the Dayton Moore vs Omar Moreno stupid fest?

    Cliff, most if not all here on the Journal agree with you. Hell, I don’t disagree with you. Its just that I think the Braves are going to play Heyward right away if he has even a decent spring. Count it.

  10. Cliff–excellent point about the extra year at 20 v. the extra year at 26.

    Johnny–I like the way you stick to your guns–and who knows you might be proven right….

  11. Johnny

    I highly doubt that. I say that because of the way the Braves treated Hanson. They could have easily had him in the Majors after camp broke. He pitched very well in ST. He dominated AAA. I guess the issue is that, “Why not let the kid pitch in the Majors?” It’s simple: super-two.

    Now, when you have Heyward in ST, tearing it up with an OPS in the spring of .900, they will send him to AAA and see if he can duplicate it. If he does, the FO will deal from our OF surplus (Melky most likely) for a AA Infield Prospect with pop (B-/B type who projects higher… Lonnie Chisenhall in Cleveland?). If Schafer is deemed ready, I’m also sure that the FO would deal McLouth for more infield depth (Reid Brignac?), but I highly doubt that Heyward starts the season in the big club.

  12. If Heyward is deemed ready enough to start the season in Atlanta, then I reckon we’ll see a long term contract being offered shortly after, a la Evan Longoria.

  13. Nick, the Braves have never done that with any player and even if they were willing to, I doubt that a) Heyward’s camp would be and b) the Braves would have the financial resources to lock him up for nine years.

  14. Tom, you are correct to a point.

    However our Braves did lock Brian McCann up for seven years (6 years/$26.8M (2007-12), plus 2013 club option), although most of the same time period would have been arbitration years.

    They will definitely attempt to do the same with Hanson and Heyward should he also prove to be worth the investment.

    I just read the latest PECOTA predictions and got a good laugh. While our Braves may be capable of winning 85 games, the Phillies are in reality gonna win at least 90 games if not more, and not the 85 predicted by PECOTA. The 2010 N.L. East division is the Phillies to lose and that statement is all about respect.

    I mean c’mon, they have played in the last two World Series back to back.

    O yea, PECOTA boldly predicted the A’s to win the N.L.West with 85 wins. My God is all I can say as in…. reality say’s the A’s have a near hammer lock on finishing last in their division.

    And about Omar Infante, he’s the best utility player to play for the Braves in many, many years. Arguably since Jerry Royster.

  15. #18, I agree about the Phillies, but the A’s look okay. I’m not going say any team has a “hammer lock” (?) on last place in any division with the Mariners, though. Man, that lineup looks horrible. Bradley, Ichiro, and a 40-year-old Griffey.

  16. 18 and 23. Oop’s, yea I meant A.L West. But I think the Mariners on paper are the better team than Oakland. They have added Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, Ian Snell (full season), Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes and our old friend Ryan Langerhans.

    But I can’t wait to see when Bradley has his next meltdown…..

  17. Still don’t know who is going to hit in the middle of the Mariners’ line up. Milton Bradley? Ken Griffey Jr.? Casey Kotchman? They should be playing meaningful games in September and quite possibly October, nonetheless, barring any major injuries/sucktitude.

  18. 1992 was a terrific, if frustrating year. A terrible start, an anemic offense and outrageous expectations after ’91.

    Still, the good guys won the division fairly easily and then had the epic game 7 ninth inning to get to the WS.

    The WS was frustrating. I really thought Deion was going to pull us through all by himself. He was possessed and definitely lived up to his bright lights reputation.

    It wasn’t as heartbreaking as the 91 Series, but 92 was still a tough loss. When looking back over the 90’s, either a 91 or 92 Series victory would make me feel a whole lot less frustrated.

    Don’t even get me started on ’96.

  19. I’m working on the outfield comments, and frankly, it looks to me like Heyward is on the team unless he bombs. They just haven’t set up the roster in any way that works without him.

  20. Guys, its not like I’m a genius but the evidence points in my favor:
    1. All the talk coming from Peanut, DOB, Wren, and Bobby about giving Heyward a chance to win the position.
    2. No credible rumor (I don’t think the Damon rumors were more than speculation) about acquiring a starting outfielder type even after trading Javier Vazquez.
    3. The Braves WERE careful with Hanson but they had been burned before by rushing Kyle Davies and we had enough pitchers the team considered starters at the beginning of the season.
    4. There simply isn’t another candidate for the starting outfield spot in the high minors. The only outfielders the team has are Diaz, McLouth, Cabrera, Hinske and Heyward. And calling Hinske an outfielder is being charitable.
    5. No way the team breaks camp with Hinske as your 4th outfielder AND caddy for Chipper and Glaus.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah all the super two stuff and buying his most productive years and blah is important. But putting the best team on the field to win the NL East and
    into the post season IN 2010 is more important.

    If Heyward just totally blows in ST he goes to Gwinnett but I’ll even go so far as to say that if he is just even average in ST he starts in Atlanta.

    My preference would have been to get a veteran outfielder from the FA market and let Heyward have a 1/2 a season or so in AAA. But when it became apparent that the most the team could afford was Glaus and Hinske (I like both acquisitions) then I became resigned to seeing Jayson Heyward start what everyone including myself thinks is going to be a stellar career in 2010.

  21. Boy, hank, when y’all are hitting perimeter shots like this, it’s pretty much impossible to defend against you.

  22. Blanco is quad A cannon fodder at this point. As for Schafer, I dunno. One could make the case for or against him making the team out of spring training.

    He’s got almost 1500 minor league at bats and made the team last spring, and hit that HR in his first big league at bat. But, Schafer has missed so much time the Braves might want to make sure he gets needed reps down in triple A.

    The only indicator as to what might happen is Bobby Cox. The Braves Hall of Fame manager traditionally carries 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 7 infielders and 4 outfielders.

    I’ll cut to the chase. One or two slots in the back of the bullpen are open. Diaz, McLouth and Cabrera are locked in ostensibly leaving one spot open in the outfield.

    The same can be said for the infield. One slot is open as Chipper, Glaus, Escobar, Hinske, Prado and Infante are on the team.

    But who knows. Maybe Bobby goes with five outfielders instead. As it is, Heyward, Schafer and possibly Joe Thurston are the three position players with a chance to make the team.

    And the back of the bullpen is anybody’s guess. Acosta, Chavez, Dunn, Reyes(he’s out of options), Valdez, Marek, Redmond and Parr will battle it out.

  23. I share the belief that Heyward is headed to the show out of ST. The only thing that might preclude this is the acquisition of Johnny Damon, but as good of a deal as I think this could be, I don’t think he fits very well onto this team. Don’t get me wrong, it would be a much better team with him on it, but he’s a sub-par defender, and if you put an OF of Damon, Diaz, and McLouth out there, you’re asking for trouble. And you’ll almost surely need to do this every time you face a LH pitcher. That’s bad news.

    And then, of course, you run into problems once you do bring up Heyward. You basically need to trade one of Melky or Diaz to make room, and that means you either have no credible back-up CF (no, Infante doesn’t count except in a pinch) or 4 OFs who all bat from the left side.

    So that’s all just to say, it’d be very surprising to me if the Braves OF on opening day wasn’t McLouth, Heyward and the Melky/Diaz platoon.

  24. There will be a new post up in the morning. Schedule:

    Jan 31 Other infield possibiilities
    Feb 2 Matt Diaz
    Feb 4 Nate McLouth
    Feb 6 Melky!
    Feb 8 Jason Heyward
    Feb 10 Other outfield possibilities

    All will go up at 8 AM CT.

  25. Schafer has no chance to make the team. I think the roster fills out with heyward, Chavez, dunn, and Mitch jones. The other 21 are pretty obvious.

  26. I agree that Heyward is likely to break camp as the starting RF, but I would like to point out that Infante is also a backup OF as well as Mitch Jones.

    Melky could shift to CF if something happened to McLouth.

    Schafer needs a full season at Gwinnett.

  27. Didn’t get to see the UK / Vandy game. (Heard it was a foul fest.)

    I was at my son’s high school fundraiser (where I bid on, but lost, an autographed Mike Minor baseball).

    Speaker was Cecil Fielder. It was, er, interesting.

    He covered a lot of ground, including the story of Steinbrenner (in ubiquitous turtleneck) stomping into the Yankees clubhouse in ’96 after the Braves had won the first two games and yelled, “Well, it’s obvious we’re going to get swept!”

    Torre turned to George and said, “No, we’re going to go to Atlanta and win all three and come back here and win it in Game Six.” Damned if they didn’t do just that.

    He was also pretty open about the breach between Prince and himself. It apparently happened after Prince made the bigs – not before as I had assumed.

    Spoke very highly of Cox, Sparky and Torre. Pretty special to have played for all three.

    Cecil’s new wife is beautiful.

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