A fan favorite who’s managed to shoulder his way, unexpectedly, into the team’s plans. Mark was a football player, indeed a quarterback, in college, and came to baseball relatively late. Nobody really thought he’d be more than a bit player in the majors, but he’s hit and played defense well enough that — combined with the struggles of more hyped players — the Braves are looking for a place to play him. Rumor has it that they’re going to give him a chance to beat out Vinny Castilla at third, which he should do in a fair fight. I hope so, but he could also take second base from Marcus Giles, or be used at short and push Furcal to second. He’s even played some outfield, but he can’t really play the position and doesn’t have the bat for it anyway.
It’s important that people not get too excited by DeRosa. There are still some holes in his game. Though he hit .297 last year, he only drew 12 walks in 232 plate appearances, an awful, Wes Helmsesque ratio, and his OBP was only .339. (That’s also his career mark.) And while he has some power, it’s not enough to overcome a subpar OBP. He’s a pretty good shortstop or second baseman, but unproven at third. He runs well, but lacks the instincts of someone with a more complete baseball background and is only 4-for-8 career as a basestealer.
It may be that even though Mark is entering his age 28 season that he’s still learning the game. Given his athletic ability, he could still make a jump or two. If he can control the strike zone better (and he’s shown signs of it in the minor leagues) he could be a much more productive hitter.