Jose Constanza is a very polarizing figure among Braves fans. Some erroneously believe that he should have gotten more playing time down the stretch. Some correctly believe that all he can be is an extra outfielder due to his good speed and little else in his game. Constanza will go into camp competing for the fifth outfielder slot (yes, fifth outfielder....remember, Matt Diaz and his guaranteed contract have the fourth spot locked down), but should Braves fans expect anything higher than a replacement level performance from him?
When Constanza was called up at the end of July, he got three starts that month. A majority of his playing time came in August, where he hit .342/.392/.452. Now, a couple of things. He had a .371 BABIP during that hot stint during the month. Despite the sexy numbers across the board, his ISO was only .110 (good for a center fielder, unacceptable for a corner outfielder, where he was getting a majority of his starts), and his walk rate was an average 7.3%.
The wheels came off in September, but fans kept begging for him to get playing time. Here's a fact about Constanza's September: it was awful. He hit .174/.174/.174, going without a walk or an extra base hit in 24 plate appearances over 12 games, as he was reduced to a pinch hitting role. For what it's worth, he also went 0/2 on the bases in September after going 7/9 in August.
I'll admit it: he had a hot month of August. Good for him. But to claim that Constanza deserves a starting role is completely ludicrous. Constanza is a guy that over his entire minor league career, has a career best ISO of .109, which came in a 76 game stint in high-A back in 2006. He is the definition of a pinch runner off the bench, and not the type of guy who should be playing every day.
But honestly, he *could* be better than Matt Diaz coming off the bench. Diaz's claim to fame is that he kills lefties. Last season, his OPS against lefties was just .692. Granted, that's better than his OPS against righties of .550, but I digress. It's still really not good. Constanza on the other hand, had an OPS against lefties of .799, though he didn't have an extra base hit and was ridiculous lucky with a .441 BABIP. Personally, I wouldn't want either on my team, but if I had to choose between them....I'd rather have Constanza. I think that carrying both would be a critical mistake for this team, as it would really stifle the options that Fredi Gonzalez has.