Constanza continues to surprise

As the past couple weeks passed, there certainly didn’t seem reason to believe Dan Uggla’s hitting streak would not obviously rank as the most surprising development surrounding the Braves recently.

But now that the unexpected march toward history is complete, is it more surprising that Uggla hit in 33 consecutive games or that Jose Constanza has batted .414 with a .452 on-base percentage and .569 slugging percentage through the first 16 games of his Major League career.

The 27-year-old Constanza got his first call to the Majors on July 29 and quite honestly I wondered if he would would stick around for more than a couple days.  Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth had just gone on the DL and the Braves simply needed somebody who could play center and bat leadoff.

They filled that need on the morning of July 31, when they acquired Michael Bourn from the Astros.  Then a few hours later Constanza enhanced his resume with the first of the three, three-hit games he has produced during his first couple weeks in the Majors.

As Constanza dazzled with his speed and continued to find good fortune through his first week in the Majors, you had to wonder, OK, when is this going to end?    But as time has passed, he has made it clear that he is not necessarily the typical 27-year-old midseason roster addition.

Constanza spent three seasons playing at the Class A and Class A-Advanced levels for the Indians.  Since then, he has steadily improved his numbers with each promotion.    While spending all of last year with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate and the first four months of this season with Triple-A Gwinnett,  the lightning-fast outfielder combined to hit .316 with a .368 on-base percentage and a .374 slugging percentage.

In other words, maybe we shouldn’t be shocked to see Constanza enjoy this kind of immediate success. Yes, you should be surprised he has proven this productive over two weeks.  But maybe it’s unfitting to describe the reaction as “shocking.”

This certainly wasn’t what was expected in late April when it seemed Constanza should have gotten the call to the Majors in front of 40-man Joe Mather.  But with his speed, this rookie outfielder has proven he’s always capable of providing a surprise.

When Constanza began last night’s stirring ninth-inning comeback with an infield single, you could almost sense the frustration felt by Giants closer.   After The Jet burned the The Beard, Eric Hinske showed his veteran patience by drawing a key walk.   Then of course you know the rest of the story right up until the point where Freddie Freeman hit 3-2 fastball up the middle for a two-out, two-run single that gave the Braves a walk off victory.

Constanza has registered 10 infield singles through his first 16 games, moving him to within six of Uggla’s team-high total.  This is an absolutely incredible pace that nobody would ever be able to sustain over the course of an entire season.

But just for fun, let’s point out that Constanza’s current pace would equate to 101 infield hits over the course of an entire 162-game season.   Brett Butler set the Major League record in 1992 with 72 infield hits for the Dodgers.

As he has continued to experience a charmed life over the past couple weeks, Constanza has provided much more than speed.  Dating back to the outfielder’s  July 29 debut, Uggla is the only Braves player to compile a higher slugging percentage and more homers.

Uggla actually leads all Major Leaguers in those two categories over that short span and also dating back to July 5, when his hitting streak started.

After beginning a new hit streak with a double last night Uggla now owns a .231 batting average.   It still seems quite doubtful that he will  match the .263 career batting average he carried into this season.  But that number was also slightly skewed after he surprisingly produced a .287 average last year.

If Uggla maintains his current pace and completes the season with 604 at-bats, he would need to hit . 362 (54-for-149) the rest of the way to match .263.     But he could hit a more manageable .309 (46-for-149) the rest of the way and end the season with a .250 batting average.

Whatever the case, it’s seemingly a lock Uggla will post his fifth consecutive 30-homer season  quite possibly better his career-high total of 33 set last year.    He enters tonight with 27 homers, puttting him on pace for 35.   <p>

Remembering Ernie:   It was certainly sad to hear of Ernie Johnson Sr.’s passing during the late innings of Friday night’s win over the Cubs.  But maybe it was fitting that he was given a chance to rest and look over Turner Field as his beloved Braves put an end to a day reserved to celebrate Bobby Cox’s career.

When I spoke to Johnson’s longtime broadcast partner Pete Van Wieren Saturday evening, you could still hear the hurt in his voice.  But he was very thankful that he had taken advantage of one more chance to see his close friend last Wednesday.

While I didn’t get to work with Ernie Sr. on a daily basis, it has been a privilege to have gotten to know his son Ernie Johnson Jr. and hear how much both Van Wieren and Skip Caray loved him.

Over the past few days many of you have expressed what Ernie meant to you.  So let’s end this with a song that might stir some great memories you shared with him.    It’s called “I Watched It All On My Radio” by Lionel Cartwright, who just happens to be from my neck of the woods in Glen Dale, WV, or you might better know it as Brad Paisley’s hometown.

 

25 Comments

I really feel like Heyward should be demoted today. Bring up Wilkin Ramirez and let Heyward get his stuff straight at AAA, then come back up at roster expansion time. It will be good for him to get it out of the way now and have time to prove himself before the post season.

I predicted the lineup; Bourn, Prado, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Chipper, Gonzalez, Constanza, P.

I love the reference by the guy doing the piece to Fernando “Venezuela”. RIP Ernie!

Randall be breezin.

Georgie does it again.

Pretty DP. Delgado faces the min thru 4.

Ernie will definitely be missed. I developed my love for the braves sitting with my grandfather watching the games and listening to pete and ernie. My grandfather passed away 10 years ago on the seventh this month. I didn’t know ernie but I’m sure I shared many a memory with him and many because of him. Longing for the glory days of dale murphy, the lemmer, belliard, gant, sid, crime dog, javy, and so many others. Wecan only hope the current braves regime pays proper homage to ernie and the teams he so wonderfully called the games for by winning and starting a new BRAVES DYNASTY!

Delgado is dominating. His changeup is completely undetectable. Bats in the stands, swinging at pitches that bounce up there. This is as dominant 6 innings from a Braves pitchers as I have seen all year. Lets get him some runs.

Jesus Fredi you moron. 5 fastballs in a row. What are you thinking?

I was pleasantly mistaken when I thought that Delgado was not as ready as Teheran or Vizcaino (or maybe I’m even more pleasantly right). The kid did a great job tonight. I also agree it’s time to send Heyward down, we aren’t playing him anyways. Let the kid get some AB’s.
By the way, Nate who??

They need to get heyward with a real swing coach quick. It may be too late for this season, but don’t leave the kid hanging and ruin his career, We’ve done way too much of that lately.

Gonzo The Human Rally Killer. God, somebody take a bat to his kneecap for me.

was anyone else hoping gonzo just struck out there? I mean… wtf…

Yunel has an .805 OPS in toronto. That was another Qtip gem.

You know they’re being scrutinized for their own version of Spygate, right?

Yeah maybe we should trade clutch conrad and bench Prado. Yeah that makes sense.

Most people watch the braves hoping they win. You watch them hoping certain players do well so you can score points on an internet blog. Makes you a very sad individual.

Jordan Schafer thinks you’re a hypocrite.

Kudos once again to Bravo for his predictive fear that we would lose this series. Keep up the good work Bravo!

Thank god for brooksie and martin and shades of last year.

Greatest pitch of the night? Vizcaino’s two-seamer up-and-in to Ross. That will teach him to showboat in our park.

+1

Thought the same thing – and Ross’s expression was like someone farted in church.

I’m hoping Cody Ross gets another “haircut” today. There’s not a lot you can do in a tie ball game as far as retribution. I don’t really think we sent the message we need to. Anyone who has 10 homers in September should never bat flip, and hop like Sammy Sosa. I want him plunked today.

IMO the criticism of Ross is a little over the top. The announcers were really on him about it last night. He really isn’t that type of guy, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Especially since he freakin crushed that ball. I’m glad you don’t get extra runs for distance, because he would have won the ball game right there. That was impressive. I’m not saying he should have done what he did, but I can understand it. After he did his little crow hop or whatever that was, he just put his head down and ran, so I hope the Braves just put it behind them and move on. We really don’t need the distraction of what can come from these pay backs. Benches clearing, ejections, possible suspensions. It’s not worth it.

Did anyone see that kid last week in one of the Little League Regional games? He hit a bomb, no doubt, but then he stood there posing and just walked to first base. I would have put his ass on the bench if he played for me.

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