The primary beneficiary of Joe Mather playing himself off the team. Conrad got by far the most major league playing time of his career last year, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He played in 103 games, entering 58 of them as a pinch-hitter and starting just 26 (mostly late in the year). Unfortunately, he showed why he was a pinch-hitter late in the season, when the injury to Martin Prado (after the injury to Chipper Jones) forced him into the lineup. Conrad’s defensive butchery included not just errors but poor range. According to WAR, if you believe in such things, about half of his rather impressive offense was wiped out by defensive problems, and that doesn’t include his error-filled playoffs.
He can hit, though. His batting average was just .250, but that’s the least part of his game. His OBP was .324, and he slugged .487, with eight homers and eleven doubles. His isolated power of .237 was the highest on the team and only seven qualifiers (he was of course far short of that) in the NL had higher. If he could really play the infield, he’d have been in the majors a long time ago.
I don’t know what the Braves will do on days when Dan Uggla or Chipper gets a routine day off. Bringing Prado in from the infield seems an odd decision, but starting Brandon Hicks seems tantamount to playing two pitchers. Start Conrad and bring in Hicks for defense late?