5. Jace Peterson
2016 Stats: .254/.360/.366, seven home runs, 29 RBI’s, five stolen bases in 115 games
This will be Peterson’s third season with the Atlanta Braves organization. In December 2014, Peterson was traded along with two other players from the San Diego Padres to Atlanta in the Justin Upton trade.
The 26-year-old left-handed hitter (turns 27 in May) played in 37 fewer games in 2016 than in 2015. Despite having higher home run and RBI totals last season, Peterson has only hit .245 in his two seasons with Atlanta.
One of the areas that he has struggled at is in the field. He has made 20 errors the last two seasons and his 11 errors in 2016 were the fourth most among National League second baseman (one lower than Hernandez if you rank by division). From a sabermetric standpoint, Peterson dropped from -1 run saved in 2015 to -6 in 2016 (according to Fangraphs).
While Peterson did have a great month of June last season (.352, two home runs, seven RBI’s), he failed to hit higher than .250 in any of the other months of the year. Now, heading into 2017, Peterson may not have that role for long if his production doesn’t pick up.
As I mentioned earlier, Atlanta signed Sean Rodriguez as their utility player. Rodriguez is coming off of a 18 home run year with the Pittsburgh Pirates (a career high) and he has played in 139+ games each of the last two seasons.
If Rodriguez doesn’t take that spot, keep an eye on Ozzie Albies at triple-A Gwinnett. With Dansby Swanson set as the Braves shortstop of the future, the 20-year-old could get a call-up late in the season if he excels in the minor leagues (.248 in 56 games last season).