Mallex Smith was brought over from the Padres as part of the “Great Rebuild” in the Justin Upton deal. He has been a fun player to follow, based on his high batting averages, speed (he stole 88 bases in 2014) and, of course, he is a fellow Smitty.
There is no doubt Mallex can hit a little. A guy with his speed, all he need to do is put the ball in play. But can he hit enough? He doesn’t have much power, though he did hit three home runs once he was called up last season. Those were probably a product of him sitting on fastballs guys were trying to throw by him.
While Mallex’s speed screams “Center Field!”, he really isn’t an amazing defender. He is known to take some less-than-stellar routes to balls. This is supposedly something he has been working on for a few years.
2016 Recap: Mallex played eight games in the minors in 2016 and only hit .419(!). After getting the call up to the bigs, he started really slow, but looked like he was putting a things together before injuring his thumb. (In 16 games in April, he hit a putrid .188/.278/.292. In 42 games in May and June before his injury, he hit .256/.326/.413.) He finished the season with a .238 average and .316 OBP.
He also was caught stealing eight times in 24 chances. Those aren’t numbers you want from a player with his skill set.
2017 Outlook: Where do you play him? The outfield is crowded with Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis and it doesn’t appear the Braves are in a hurry to move any of those three. Peanut has mentioned the possibility Mallex will start the season in Gwinnett to get regular ABs.
Mallex has been mentioned in a few trades, but the Braves are rumored to want to keep him.
I am a big Mallex Smith fan, but I feel his skill set only allows for a brief window of success in the majors. While he is probably best suited for a fourth outfielder on a playoff team, he has a lot of appeal to teams in need of a top of the order bat. I think the Braves need to find a way to play him or try and flip him for a position of need. Sitting him on the bench is a waste and there is no need for him to shag balls across town for an extended period of time.
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