Make Or Break Year: Omar Infante

When Omar Infante made last year's All-Star team, it surprised most fans, puzzled many and angered some. Utility players don't generally represent their league at the midsummer classic. But they don't generally lead their team with a .321 average and that's exactly what Infante did in 2010.

Doubters will point out that Infante has no track record to support his '10 performance and suggest that luck helped boost his slash line to .321/.359/.416. Infante, who had qualified for the batting title just once before last year, has a career batting average of .313 on balls in play. That figure jumped to .355 in 2010 and his line drive rate dipped, which could mean that Infante's offensive production is due to fall off.

There's more to Infante than his offense, though. He started games at second, short, third, left and right last year and though he has never logged 1,000 innings at any position on the diamond, his infield defense appears to be average. Infante's career UZR sits no higher than 2.4 and no lower than -1.2 at second, third and short, an indication that he can provide MLB-caliber defense at all three positions (the Marlins will likely play him at second in place of the man he was traded for, Dan Uggla).

If Infante continues to play solid defense and comes close to matching his 2010 production, he could position himself for a substantial contract. His former teammate, Placido Polanco hit .285/.331/.396 as a 33-year-old before signing a three-year $18MM deal with the Phillies in 2009. That same year, former utility player Marco Scutaro hit .282/.379/.409 as a 33-year-old and signed a $12.5MM deal.

Infante has yet to turn 30, so he could obtain a multiyear deal as a free agent after the season if he completes the transition from utility player to established regular like Polanco and Scutaro did. If Infante falters, however, his critics will be quick to re-apply the 'utility player' label and his free agency will likely end with a modest one-year deal.

19 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Omar Infante Leave a Reply

  1. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    he didn’t even get a picture for his post. i say he’s screwed

  2. j6takish 4 years ago

    Placido Polanco had a 10 year track record of being one of the most consistent offensive/defensive players around, if Infante has a decent year, I doubt he gets Polanco money

    • nepp 4 years ago

      Polanco was also one of the best defensive 2B in baseball on top of his offense.

  3. JacksTigers 4 years ago

    I could see a big year from Infante.

  4. Guest 4 years ago

    If Aramis Ramirez doesn’t have a good year, Infante actually has the potential to be the best available 3B on next year’s market. He could easily top Polanco and Scutaro’s deals, considering the current market.

    • Michael Brown 4 years ago

      Infante’s 3B glove is merely okay. His bat definitely doesn’t translate to a full time 3B gig. Trust me you’ve never seen more seeing eye singles between 3B and SS in your life.

      • Guest 4 years ago

        I’m not saying that bolds well for the 2012 FA 3B market. But much like Scutaro being the best available SS last year, Infante might wind up being the best available 3B, just by default (depending on how Aramis does in 2011).

        And even if that isn’t the case, one more solid year at the plate could still easily get him a contract similar to Uribe’s.

  5. JayHallahan 4 years ago

    Omar Infante couldn’t carry Placido Polanco’s head sock.

  6. Jeff 4 years ago

    I think he was somewhat of a one-year fluke, but I’m still going to root for him hard, and hope he comes back to ATL at some point. I’d rather have Uggla, but I liked the pieces that were given up for him.

    • TimotheusATL 4 years ago

      He’s a solid player. There’s no doubt he played over his head last year, but as long as he can avoid HBPs to the hands, he can contribute all year at a high level for the Fish.

      I hated to see him leave until I saw who ATL got back for him.

  7. HTF 4 years ago

    Omar is a good player. Loved him here with the Braves. But in all honesty I can’t see him sustaining those career numbers. When the singles don’t find holes for him he turns into a below-average offensive player. He doesn’t walk, is susceptible to the strikeout, and his defense isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    I’m hoping he has a down year as a starter and then the Braves sweep him back up to be our utility guy again next season.

    P.S. Larry Beinfest is an idiot. What a dumb trade.

  8. I have never seen a player have so many bloopers fall for hits in my life as I did with Infante last year. He’s always done well with RISP, but I expect a drastic regression.

    Best case scenario is that he regresses at the plate, still provides his defensive versatility, and his good friend Prado gets him to sign a 2-year deal to return to the Braves in his usual utility role. Unlikely….

    • nepp 4 years ago

      Great observation…and probably pretty accurate:

      Infante’s BABIP:
      2010: .355
      Career: .313

      That’s a lot of good luck right there.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        If he regresses to his career norm and gets 600 AB’s this year it will be 25 less hits.

  9. Motor_City_Bombshell 4 years ago

    I don’t quite understand the inconsistency comments…the dude has been relatively consistent with the bat. I mean, yeah sure, the guy’s BABIP was .355 last year, which explains why his average skyrocketed last year, but even if that regresses (which it almost is certain to), he’s still a good bet to hit .290 or better next season, and he’s always been an adequate defender, and he gets on base as well. If he can survive the wear and tear of starting a full season, he could make Polanco’s contract a starting point in his contract talks, considering he is younger and versatile.

    Although of course the flip side to that is that I also see something a lot like the Felipe Lopez situation playing out, where he had a great season in 2009 and couldn’t get a deal better than the million he got with St. Louis. I think that the Lopez situation is more likely, where he tries to hold out more money and it backfires on him. I really see a one-year or two-year deal in his future that is incentive laden and really doesn’t pay him more than $3MM a year.

    • The thing is, he doesn’t get on base all that often. .319 OBP for his career, although during his time with Atlanta it was .353, so that indicates he has gotten better. But he rarely walks(29 in 134 games last year) so his OBP is very much dependent on his AVG. So yeah, if he can keep his AVG at .315-325 then we can expect a .350+ OBP. I just don’t see him doing that given how lucky he was last year.

      But like you said, if he can maintain a .290 AVG he should post at least a league-average OBP.

      In any case, I wish him the best. Guy was given his chance to start last year and flourished. Braves wouldn’t have sniffed the playoffs without him.

  10. Michael Brown 4 years ago

    I still believe it will be the Braves that resign Infante to be a Super Utility player after the season. He will probably fetch more money and possibly a starting gig somewhere else. But like Ross, Hinske, Huddy, they sign team friendly deals to be in Atlanta.

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